In The Fold Manifesto: Why the Page Fold Still Matters, Amy Schade discusses how important it is to put key information above the fold on a website. In the article, Schade writes: “Screen sizes are constantly shifting and designs can respond to these sizes, rather than fit to a constant size. So when clients, designers, developers, or marketers talk about content ‘above the fold’ — a term borrowed from print-newspaper terminology and used as a way to reference what is visible on the webpage without scrolling — does it make sense anymore? Yes. The fold still exists and still applies. Even though the exact location of the fold will differ between devices, it exists for every single user on every single screen.”
A while back, a colleague and I were discussing this concept. The branding arm of her company required her to use a standard layout for her product (a web site), which included a huge picture below the standard menu. This picture took up about 1/3 of the vertical space on a full-size monitor, pushing meaningful information below the fold.
As Schade points out, users will scroll down a webpage, but whatever appears above “the fold” must entice users to do so. For my friend working within someone else’s constraints, the choice of what appears in the image above the fold becomes all the more important. As digital culture evolves and user behavior shapes the ways we communicate, we must all choose what we put above the fold with strategic consideration.
With this in mind, we can implement a hierarchy of information in some cases, putting the most important elements first, and in other cases, we must create a visual invitation to keep users engaged and moving down the screen. Even when we are simply communicating with our clients and team members, these are important concepts to keep in mind.
I may be overstepping, but I even apply these concepts to emails. I like to put action items at the top of meeting minutes, so they are easily seen. For longer emails, I’ll put a summary first, followed by details. I also consider the interaction cost of putting information in-line in an email versus attaching it. All things being equal, I try to reduce the interaction cost and put information in-line.