by Amy Schade
Summary: What appears at the top of the page vs. what’s hidden will always influence the user experience—regardless of screen size. The average difference in how users treat info above vs. below the fold is 84%.
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. From a technical standpoint, the fold for the most common device sizes can be determined by looking at web traffic and at device and browser statistics. A responsive design may have 2, 3, 4, or more different folds, specific to the devices and screen sizes that the design was optimized for. Each target device has its own fold to consider.
But more than a measurement, the fold is a concept. 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.
The following heatmap aggregates all the sites in our study (excluding search engines and search pages). Content below the fold does gather some looks, but not nearly as much as the content above the fold.