Above the fold

Posted by Webmaster in Uncategorized

I’ve seen a lot of discussion lately about “the fold” and how it applies to the web or if it does at all. Some of it is more research based than others. And I haven’t really seen anything (at least nothing written in this millennium) saying that the idea of the fold is vitally important online. In fact, we can use the fold to seduce users to scroll for more content.

Google recently released an awesome tool for visualizing the “moving target” aspect web browser viewport size variations: Browser Size. If you plug VolState.edu into that tool, you will see the line marked 80% is the ideal viewport I had in mind throughout the design process. For bigger screens we see a quick drop off in gains to viewable area per percentage step past that point. But with smaller screens we lose significant chunks of usable screen area for smaller and smaller gains to the percentage of people falling in the sweet spot. Can you imagine trying to cram all our content into the area marked with 99% or even 95%?

Those figures are an average for all internet users (or at least all Google users). Using Google Analytics’ browser statistics reporting I can adjust those figures to fit our audience a bit better. For the sweet spot, I got up to 90% before I stopped adding. I would probably end up somewhere around 93% if I tallied all 334 different screen sizes people have used to view our site in the past month. But I can guarantee at least 90% of our audience see at least as much of the screen labeled as 80% with the default numbers. To me, this makes the idea of diminishing returns on either side of that line even more dramatic.