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Keep it above the fold

March 24, 2010

Read what the brilliant Jakob Nielsen has to say about webpage scrolling and attention.  Results? 80% of users’ time is spent looking above the fold (e.g. above where they’d have to do a vertical scroll).

In the process of our library’s website redesign, I’ve become a bit of a fascist about keeping content above the fold.  I don’t want people to scroll unless they’ve consciously made a choice to access a large piece of content – e.g. an article, lengthy list of resources, new books list, etc.  If the page is at any navigation level but the bottom, then it needs to stay above the fold.  Rawr!  Come on…just try to pass a page by me that requires scrolling.  Then let’s see how far you get :)

via @NNgroup on Twitter

“Keep it above the fold”

  1. chris gibson Says:

    Ha. I’ve always suspected that readers don’t scroll down too far on a web site.
    Thanks for sharing.

  2. Brad Czerniak Says:

    Nielsen stated matter-of-factly that users spend 80% of their time looking at content above the fold, then elaborated with an explanation of methodology and references to good content practices from past studies.

    Your headline appears to place a hard-and-fast rule, which you elaborate upon by talking about how important it is that all but the longest content remain above the fold on your library website.

    If you approach content from the stance that it should be no taller than an arbitrary height (say, 600px for the common 1024×768 screen resolution, the page header, and some browser chrome), then your content can conceivably be crammed, awkward, and perhaps be set in too small of type.

    On the other hand, if you write content conscious that people read less on the web than they do in print form, that they’re most likely to scan (especially headlines, images, and bold text), that the most important information should be at the top in a sensible IA, and that white space, consistent typography, and sensible layout are more pleasing and inherently readable, then you’ll produce content suited to the reader.

    I am not saying that trying to keep content above the fold shouldn’t be A consideration, just that it shouldn’t be such a priority that you’d deem yourself a ‘fascist’ for the cause.

  3. Pratt Matt Says:

    It amazes me that “above the fold” is considered such a major insight. After all, where did that name come from? Newspapers have been dealing with this for years. The key is to grab the reader’s attention in such a way that the reader will scroll (or turnover the page). I agree with Brad C that cramming too much above the fold defeats the purpose. That’s where experience and best practices come in handy — judging how to balance everything. And even then you’ll never be totally satisfied.

  4. Tweets that mention Keep it above the fold | Librarian in Black Blog – Sarah Houghton-Jan -- Topsy.com Says:

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Worcester Public Lib, Brooke Ahrens. Brooke Ahrens said: Web design to get things seen. "Keep it above the fold" http://bit.ly/baWh6W [...]

  5. Mitch Malone Says:

    Couldn’t agree less: http://iampaddy.com/lifebelow600/

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