Back in the day, I used to feel the need to focus the start of creative presentations on the importance of optimizing experiences for the most ubiquitous screen sizes. Way before the smart phone or the tablet came along, there was a really good set of data online that indicated where you should be within a lowest common denominator of screen resolutions and browser stats. This gave you solid information on what 98% of the screen resolutions and browsers in the world would see when they went to a site before they scrolled or clicked. The “fold line.” A magical line that separates what users would see on initial load and what all content users would have to scroll to see. You’re asking, what was it that you needed to have above that line? Well, the answer is everything you needed a user to see to become vested and want to know or learn more. Successful sites all have a few things going for them: intuitive navigation, brand mark, brand messaging that resonates and above all else, a call to action. One that is irresistible. A way to get users to the section of the site that you feel they want or may need.
That being said, having any of that below the fold was rolling the dice. Maybe they would scroll down. Maybe they wouldn’t. Maybe, just maybe, the jelly looking buttons you created after Apple set the bar for clickable goodies in the early 2000’s would get a click after scrolling. There have been countless studies on gaze trails and there is a real science to developing an effective site above the fold. That is until parallax sites and the mobile platform came along. Before these catalysts of the change, it was asking a lot of users to scroll to see more. They just didn’t need to or want to if they didn’t see what they wanted from a site above the fold. If they didn’t like what they saw, why the need to go farther?
So in this mobile-dominated day, what does that mean for “the fold”? Well, you can forget it. Some may say it’s still there. I can tell you they are delusional. It’s gone. That’s not something to cry about really. It is actually a good thing. The hundreds upon hundreds of variations in pixel density, browser, platform, OS and devices dug the hole first. But you can bet that mobile devices and the need to scroll for content put the very last eardrum-shattering nail in the coffin. The site lives on, but in a new form. Reincarnated.
Oh, and say goodbye to sidebars with other content screaming for your attention. They are on their way out too.