Why the Page Fold Still Matters

Rather than a set measurement, in digital experiences the fold, or the portion of the webpage that is visible without scrolling, is a concept. In the fold manifesto, Amy Shade says:

The fold matters because what appears at the top of your page matters. Users do scroll, but only if what’s above the fold is promising enough. What is visible on the page without requiring any action is what encourages us to scroll. This is true on any size screen, be it mobile, tablet, or desktop: anything that’s hidden and that the user must uncover will only be seen if the user deems it worth the hassle.

It's a matter of cognitive leaks or energy your audience needs to expend to figure out whether they want to look further. We look at what we find at the top of a search page. This behavior transfers to how we interact with web sites overall.

The promise of further value can be:

  • Visi​ble without further action (i.e., above the fold) = low interaction cost to review
  • Invisible and requiring an action to be made visible (i.e., below the fold, or otherwise hidden) = higher interaction cost, consisting of (a) the mental effort of guessing that something is hidden and having to make the positive decision to reveal the content, and (b) the physical effort of doing what is required to see the content (e.g., scrolling the page).

Yes, even web pages need to build a solid story to elicit further action, like scrolling. Based on qualitative and quantitative research:

84% is the average difference in how users treat info above vs. below the fold

In a story, the lead is what is above the fold. Read how a five-time Pulitzer juror judges candidates.


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