If you jumped on the web bandwagon early for your business, you’re probably familiar with the phrase “above the fold.” This is the idea that you should have everything important on each web page positioned such that the user does not need to scroll down to see it. Five, three, or maybe even just one year ago, we would agree with this notion. After all, we’re not just web developers and designers, we’re marketers and we understand the importance of prominent, easy to find calls to action.
But standards, technology, and user habits have changed dramatically since the early days of internet. Long, or even infinite load, pages are now not only acceptable, but often preferred to spreading content out on multiple pages and forcing the user to navigate back and forth between them. Below are three of the most influential factors in that have led to scrolling becoming the norm.
Social Media Influence:
Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram. Each of these social platforms features an endless feed of content through which users will happily scroll. When we think about the amount of time people spend on these platforms – the average American spends 40 minutes per day on Facebook alone – it’s easy to see how users have become conditioned to scrolling.
Larger Screen Sizes:
A few years back, we were seeing tech get more and more compact, with smaller smartphones, netbooks, and tablets. Now things are swinging the other direction. Screens are getting larger, both on mobile and desktop devices – all while continuing to make the tech as light as possible. Though expanding screen sizes may seem to make a case against scrolling, what with there being more room on the page and seemingly a lower “fold,” this is actually not the case. As screens are growing, so too are the images on websites, making it necessary to scroll to see the all of the content and images on the page.
Responsive Design & Usability:
Perhaps the most influential factor leading to what some are calling the death of above the fold design is the trend towards responsive design. This technique allows websites to adjust, or respond, to varying browser and screen sizes. When you design solely for desktops, “the fold” is fairly standard. But in today’s world, we can’t design in one platform alone. As users become more and more comfortable with responsive design they are even further conditioned to scroll. Already “66% of the attention on a normal media page is spent [on what would be considered] below the fold.”
That being said, we’re not arguing that you should bury your most important calls to action at the bottom of every page. At heart we’re still marketers and want your most important messages to be seen! We’re simply warning against discrediting pages or site designs that require scrolling. If your content is compelling, users will absolutely scroll to see it!