Tarquini : Blasting the Myth of the Fold

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This was an interesting article for me as I come from a Journalism background. This article is a must read if you are involved in web layout design. It deals with the classic battle to place all the “good stuff” above the fold, which usually results in a crammed and cluttered layout.

Stop worrying about the fold. Don’t throw your best practices out the window, but stop cramming stuff above a certain pixel point. You’re not helping anyone. Open up your designs and give your users some visual breathing room. If your content is compelling enough your users will read it to the end.

Advertisers currently want their ads above the fold, and it will be a while before that tide turns. But it’s very clear that the rest of the page can be just as valuable – perhaps more valuable – to contextual advertising. Personally, I’d want my ad to be right at the bottom of the TMZ page, forget the top.

The biggest lesson to be learned here is that if you use visual cues (such as cut-off images and text) and compelling content, users will scroll to see all of it. The next great frontier in web page design has to be bottom of the page. You’ve done your job and the user scrolled all the way to the bottom of the page because they were so engaged with your content. Now what? Is a footer really all we can offer them? If we know we’ve got them there, why not give them something to do next? Something contextual, a natural next step in your site, or something with which to interact (such as a poll) would be welcome and, most importantly, used.

Tarquini makes an interesting comment in her own comment section thats important: content is still king.

Milissa Tarquini
65 Reputation points
Posted 2007/07/24 @ 09:02AM with +0 votes

Chris – you’ve got it right. The content is the key. If it’s good, users will follow it – and I think they will follow it even if they haven’t been to the site before. The design of the page is important of course, and great design can support that great content. But if the content isn’t good, well, then I certainly hope users aren’t scrolling to see more of it… 😉

Read the whole thing.

Update: Jacque at Silas Notes commented on Tarquini’s article and affirmed the importance of content to get users to scroll below the fold.

The key to successful web layout is therefore not to cram your content above the fold, but to write compelling content that will entice the user to want to scroll to read more.

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