I was in a Web design review meeting the other day and the client remarked that he wanted to make sure “all the important content was above the fold.” My initial reaction was to agree but one of the Matrix Group Front-End developers challenged this notion. The fold, he told me, no longer exists and is a myth that limits our design horizons. The fold is gone? What other Web conventions can we/should we do away with?
In Blasting the Myth of the Fold, Milissa Tarquini argues that the myth that users “won’t scroll to see anything below the fold – is doing everyone a great disservice, most of all our users.” Moreover, the fold doesn’t even exist anymore because monitor sizes and screen resolutions are all over the map these days. When we refer to the fold, are we referring to the top portion of the page on my little Sony VAIO, or the 21-inch monitor on a programmer’s desk? And btw, what about people who work on multiple monitors and never maximize their browsers?
I resisted the notion that the fold is gone, but I am finally a convert. That’s it. The fold is gone. This does not mean that Information Architects and Web Designers should go nuts and create sites that scroll forever, but I believe we can reasonably expect that users will experience our sites differently and that all of them are okay with scrolling.
Another myth that I believe we should abandon is the idea that we should keep users on our sites and not link to third party content. The beauty of the Web is that we can link to a world of resources. Peppering our content with links is a great service to our visitors because it means we have sifted through Web pages and linked up relevant content. Who are we kidding? Our visitors can leave our sites with one click and they will leave if they don’t find rich, compelling content and resources. Yes, they may leave, but they will come back because you have become a trusted source with your own valuable content and valuable links.
Take this blog. Whenever I can, I link to outside sites. I don’t even bother having the links open in a new window. If the content is good, visitors will read what I have to say, and then click to an outside site. In fact, I believe my blog posts are enhanced by links to third party sites that validate and reinforce my observations.
So, what do you think? Are you ready to abandon the fold and the ban on links to third party sites? What other conventions can we do away with?