November 13, 2015
What the fold is on a web page
If you're designing for the web nowadays, you've seen reference to the "fold". It's a critically-important thing to keep in mind when designing, and it just means the top part of a web page that is visible before someone has to scroll down on their desktop computer, or swipe down their phone or tablet.
No, cell phones and computers don't actually fold of course, but in terms of design, if something critical on your page doesn't show up before the fold, it will probably get lost. No, people aren't "just too darn lazy" to go looking for stuff, you're just a poor designer. And like all good design, it requires prioritizing. This is how you do it:
• Design for the quick glance. All good design should do this. If someone glances at your design, do they know exactly what you're communicating? Good design works that way, poor design makes people search around, trying to figure out stuff. Yes, some people will do that, but not many. Most people will just look away, or click away.
• Tell people that they're in the right place. Your first priority should be your company logo, and name. People who are visiting your website are like people walking into a building. The first thing they see should tell them they're in the right place.
• Give a short description of what your site has. No, not a pointless slogan, like "we have everything for you today!". If you sell shoes, say it right there on the page, and also in the title. Yeah, you may recognize your logo, but not everyone else does. Tell them what you do.
• Give your visitor a way to contact you. Yes, above the fold. That means a telephone number, or an email address, or a physical address. Many visitors to your website have already heard how great you are, they want buy your product or service. Make it clear, don't hide it way down at the bottom of the page, below the fold.
• Include a visual. Even though space is precious, don't just have a website with nothing but type - that's boring. People like visuals, like photos. I use cartoons, because I'm a cartoon illustrator.
No, it's not easy doing this type of design. Good design is difficult, and that's why people who are fascinated by it, and love to do it, are hired. Good design is always recognized by ordinary people, not because they know design, but because good design communicates well and is easy to use for them. People vote against bad design by staying away from it.
Posted by Brad Hall