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Life Below 600 Pixels (iampaddy.com)
135 points by fryed7 on May 11, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 34 comments

Generally good advice, but the idea that the majority of a page's visitors don't look below the fold isn't entirely fallacious, as Jakob Neilsen reported in 2010: http://www.useit.com/alertbox/scrolling-attention.html

I suspect the percentage of people scrolling down the page is continuing to increase, but even if it's not, I don't think it's that important. The majority of people visiting a typical Web page don't "convert" anyway (that is, they don't do something that the page is designed to encourage). The key is to give a good experience to those who do want to engage and providing content below the fold is a legitimate way of doing that (and, as Neilsen notes, is better than 'paging.')

All that said, saying "You're still reading. Pretty crazy, huh?" doesn't prove a point though. Clearly the percentage of people who scrolled and are reading.. are reading. But I might just be in that 20%. Without hooking up some JavaScript to your page, we can't get a figure on what percentage that is ;-)

On any other article the massive header would be obnoxious, too. As a human who uses the web I think (naïvely) that it'd be nice if I could start reading the content of a page from the top, and I certainly shouldn't have to scroll down a page to start.

I understand that the author is trying to prove a point, but before I knew that I thought, "God, what a ridiculous page layout," and I was closer to closing the page because of it. I guess the moral of the story is that you can shove your relevant content "below the fold" if you like, but only if you're making a joke.

As for the 37Signals example, I think the article is exactly wrong on that one. The first section of that site has obviously been designed with specific intent - they're giving you descriptions of their products, and making the case for using them. It's all sales. They're not "telling a story", or waiting for you to reach the end of the page so they can tell you where to go next, those links at the bottom of the page are just there for people who forgot to click the links at the top of the page.

I'll agree that most of the "content" is below the fold, but that information is down there quite deliberately. Users aren't expected to scroll down, they're just catered to if they're not satisfied with the content at the top. Again, the content above the fold has been chosen with specific intentions - everything else is secondary to it. If anything, this example works against the point of TFA.

It's entirely good advice. People will scroll if they're intrigued enough. Follow up that intrigue with something remarkable and you will get more engagement than just scrolling. The most important bit:

> Just put a bit of thought into creating quality content and presenting it in an interesting and readable way. This will make visitors stick around for a while and use that magic scroll button.

The Neilsen study does not and cannot, due to the subjective nature of what constitutes an interesting design, guarantee tested sites met these criteria.

I don't get it. Why would someone have a website that was just some penguins on an iceberg?

Because Penguins are awesome.

As are iceburgs.

Those aboard the Titanic would disagree.

Because the Titanic was sunk by a not-awesome iceberg?

Probably some product to help cool your Linux servers, didn't bother to scroll.

Ironically - I closed the window on this one before scrolling. It was the comments here that cued me to go back and scroll :-)

In my experience (from doing a bunch of user testing on this sort of stuff) people scroll if 1) they have a visual cue that scrolling is needed/possible; 2) people are motivated enough by their need to carry on exploring.

In my case I saw this http://cl.ly/2S1B2P3X1Z1F0x3m0t0N - with no obvious cue for scrolling... spent a couple of seconds clicking random things. Left going "meh, wonder if the comments will explain this".

The problem of people just not understanding that scrolling was something that you did (yes - they really did exist ;-) has pretty much gone - thank goodness. And "the fold" isn't a thing any more because the proliferation of devices, display sizes and reading contexts means that there are dozens of different folds.

That doesn't mean you don't need to pay attention to them any more though - which is something I'm afraid a casual reader will get from this post. As others have already pointed out the 37signals page is very definitely not giving the fold the finger. It has many calls to action - both above and below the folds.... and they've paid attention to those folds (look how the biggest paying apps basecamp & highrise are above the lowest rez fold, look how the design breaks in the middle of paragraphs/images on the most common fold lengths to make it obvious to the user that there is more context if they scroll, etc.)

Yes - the idea of jamming everything up above the fold is dumb. It's the designers job to explain that this is an over simplistic reading of a design heuristic.

The advice to "Think about the rules before obeying them!" is good though :-)

there's only "no obvious cue for scrolling" because apple recently decided to hide your scrollbar, which I happen to think is a terrible decision.

The scrollbars aren't the most obvious cue you can have ;-)

The scrollbars are only one of many cues. I've observed lots of usability tests where there are scrollbars and people don't scroll because there is a natural break in the content. When the reader is unaware of the nature of the content they finish when they believe the content ends.

If you look at the 37signals page in contrast http://cl.ly/2W0w2M0w0m3z0d1D1G3r the entire bottom part of the screen is obvious "broken" by the bottom screen edge. Both the page ending in the middle of the text and the grey boxes that surround each option that are not completed are cues that there is more content. To even a very casual reader it's obvious that there stuff below that you can scroll to see - with or without scrollbars.

I'm sorry but I have to disagree. It's not about scrolling down. It's not about whether content below 600px is read at all. The purpose of the fold is to capture visitors' attention immediately, and to create a desire at the instant that they land on your page.

The 37signals' landing page is used to prove his point and the author is even claiming that they're "giving the fold the finger". Although it seems to me that 37signals is actually making great use of the fold to capture attention using big headings, high contrast, lots of colors and graphics. They've even thrown in a box that says "more praise from the press" so the visitors could feel challenged to find out for themselves. Then below 600 pixels, it's just a boring sales page. (The footer is really just a link section.)

So yes, people have learned how to scroll on web pages. But no, don't give up on making the fold awesome and informative.

The problem of the client dictating to the designer dozens of things that need to be above the fold is a strawman. That is a client who is not giving the designer latitude to do their job.

The truth is that the fold is real, and it is important. What are you putting front and center in your design? It's a real question. Of course users scroll, but the top of the page does convey a first impression, and is thus more valuable real estate then the rest. Does that mean make every page a full-screen slide? Of course not, be sensible.

>>The problem of the client dictating to the designer dozens of things that need to be above the fold is a strawman.

As a Developer, Online Marketing Manager and Digital Strategist at a web development agency for the last 5 years, I'd just like to say, AHHAHAHAHAHA... Oh jeez. Oh hell, that was a GOOD one.

He's not arguing that the fold isn't real, but that people often lose sight of the purpose of the concept.

It's not "put everything above the fold", but put the stuff that will make people want to read more or take action (including giving them teasers sufficient to visit other parts of the site, including the part of the page below the fold).

I bet at least 90% of 37signals click are "above the fold".

I've been experimenting with giving user a bit of control before moving on by making "slides", they get a slide which is nothing but 970x600px, then they have to click something to move on to the next slide. Its all loaded in the dom so no refreshing. The site is more like a presentation than a big flyer.

Also, rethinking the refresh - instead of refreshing I slide to the next page and show something in between. It can be flashy design (http://jsfiddle.net/Rd92C/), or some info (http://jsfiddle.net/andys627/xRTfL/1/). Its a great place to show have undivided attention!

I bet at least 90% of 37signals click are "above the fold".

If I was a betting man I'd take that bet.

From looking at the stats on sites with a similar layout I'd guesstimate that only about 30/40% click above the fold - and some portion of those users will have scrolled and read the other content before doing so.

aka splash pages?

I'm talking about getting away from putting stuff in its own document that is reloaded, and then using the transition time for content. More like splash transitions that were otherwise used for reloading stuff (blank screens, the same screen, half the new screen)

Unless you are using Lion, where the scrollbar is hidden, and you can't actually see whether there is any more content below the fold...

Rather than really proving any point, this and his other articles are great examples of how to use semi-incendiary link bait to snatch some buzz and, perhaps, a client or 2.

This is pointless countering to an idea that is established for a reason, people reading above the fold only is largely true. But like the page says, don't take other people's word for it. But just because you shouldn't believe them that doesn't mean you should believe the opposite. If you really care about then TEST IT YOURSELF.

Caps lock applied for the importance of the point. Like many other comments are saying there is a wealth of evidence that points towards nearly 90% of users tending to only pay attention to what is above the fold, the other 10%, may read more. That 10% is important, hell they're your most engaged audience. But your design needs to only cater for the 10% and focus on the 90%.

So test your site, use a tool like http://www.crazyegg.com/ and look at scrolling heatmaps of your site. See if a page that draws users down is really working or not. Don't take somebody else's word for anything, just use studies, design cliches and common sense as a foundation for your own result based investigation into what layout serves your entire visitor-base best.

Have they actually done usability studies on this or are they just making stuff up?

It seems to me the 37 signals website puts the most important bits above the fold.

With the success of the iPad, and its growth trajectory, I'm curious if designers will adjust to a design that favors the broadsheet format. As a person who does a lot of reading on the web, I find broadsheet to be vastly superior. Landscape is only really good for watching movies. For work I'd prefer something in the middle, and generally I wish all future computers were able to switch between portrait and landscape on the fly.

The thing about the fold is not whether you can have content below the fold but about what content you have above the fold and what should be below.

It's really that simple.

Very clever presentation that shows by doing (how many people could resist the temptation to scroll down on that page). Thanks for posting this!

For those looking for some data for the debate, Waypoint is a jQuery plugin that can help track where on a page a user scrolls to...


I just graduated! My graphic design professors would have loved to see this. Lovely little piece.

The title of this post was a hint that primed me to look below the fold.

Hey! Can somebody translate this all to mobile for me?

sure can try => use clear big navigation ...

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