Let’s Be Clear: There IS A Page Fold

please_scrollOver the past day or two, the website thereisnopagefold.com has been making the rounds. In a rather succinct, but incredibly tall manner, it states the following:


The buzz on Twitter from “designer” types appears to be a knee-jerk “ZOMG YES SO TRUE!!!111one” while responses on the site’s reddit thread have been more measured. I especially appreciate the following comment, by one fletcher_t:

Well of course it depends on the context of what the site is providing… but there is indeed a fold and if you’re ignorant of that, may god have mercy on your soul.

Let’s be perfectly clear: There IS a “fold”. For the uninitiated, the “fold” refers to the literal crease in a newspaper. Editors recognized the importance of catching their reader’s interest “above the fold”, because the likelihood a reader will bother to look under the fold is lower as a whole. Readers who might not typically read the sports section, for instance, will notice a story above the fold if it’s of interest to them. If they’re just flipping past as they always do, they’re far less likely to look beneath the fold.

The assertion made by the “no fold” site is that, because technology has provided us with infinite page lengths, we should design our pages accordingly. We can space things out more, we can use larger print and increase readability, and we shouldn’t be so concerned with what lies above the fold because users will scroll anyway! We were on a roll there up until that third point, weren’t we?

The reality is that the science of user attention is a tricky one, and more of an art than anything. Heat maps and eye-tracking studies frequently show huge dividends by presenting the initial page-load in a clear, concise manner, with well delineated courses of action visible to the user and readily accessible. Users will absolutely scroll, if you’ve given them a compelling reason to believe anything of interest lies beneath the fold. Users are fickle types, though, who scan quickly, look for large visual cues, and make an off-the-cuff and perhaps misinformed decision to bounce away from your site in an incredibly short amount of time, if you don’t captivate them instantly. To capture their interest, you simply must pay attention to the content that resides above the fold.

With Google’s release of Browser Size the other day, Tech Crunch mentioned that Google saw a 10% increase in the number of installs of Google Earth, simply by moving the download button up 100 pixels. By placing the call to action and primary focus of the page above the fold, users were far more likely to follow through. Naturally, this will vary from site to site. Amazon.com has a rather long page, which they use to show multiple categories of products they think you’ll be interested in. Their primary feature and what they hope will have the most success is always at the top, though—a compelling enticement to scroll further and see what else they got right.

Understand, this is by no means an argument for cramming everything of any importance above the fold. Not even a little bit. (And I understand that the no-fold site is likely directed at those types—but does anyone actually try to force entire sites above the fold anymore?) Whitespace should be well utilized, large print is totally acceptable, and designers shouldn’t force pages to fit into any idea of a “standard” vertical viewport. CXPartners even argues that including less information above the fold can encourage users to scroll more, arguably by reducing the utility of the site to the point where they’re forced to scroll.

It’s not my claim the no-fold site is implying you should ignore the above-fold design or disregard its design entirely, but the cheeky site title and its assertion that there is NO page fold degrades the importance of how you construct your pages for those first 700 or so pixels. Encourage your users to scroll, not by reducing utility but by increasing interest. Facilitate this behavior by keeping large, blocking horizontal lines and blocks at bay (advice from CXPartners’ piece) and providing clear paths downward. Ensure that users see that additional content exists further down. But don’t forget that your site’s first impression is above the fold.

Posted in: Design, Rants

Google Browser Size: Drawn By Five-Year-Olds

Browser SizeGoogle announced a new Labs product called Browser Size. At first I thought this might be a useful tool to complement their recent spate of great developer-oriented releases. Instead, I was assaulted by a hideous overlay that requires a left-aligned design. (Though they’re ostensibly working on that.)

Browser Size allows you to enter any URL  and see an overlay of visible browser space broken up by user demographics. Specifically, you can see what percentage of the Google-using populous would be able to see what portion of your screen on an initial page load. Apparently, this is based on typical browser dimensions for users, and not screen resolutions outright. (Taking into account non-maximized browsers.)

I understand that Labs products are by their nature not fully baked, but this one lands on the other extreme: half-assed. Perhaps the overlay is a rough attempt at being cheeky, but to me, it’s ugly, and its jagged, hand-drawn lines reduce its utility, rather than amping up its “cute” factor. The percentages aren’t even consistently rendered—it’s like My First Photoshop session here.

This isn’t to say that the concept isn’t a good one. I just wish they let this one cook a bit more before releasing it.

Browser Size | Google Labs via TechCrunch

Posted in: Design

Periodic Table of Typefaces


Design firm Squidspot has published a very cool and useful Periodic Table of Typefaces. They’re grouped roughly by “family” and “class” groupings, and ranked roughly based on their popularity from several different font ranks, though they’re loosely grouped in order to enforce the aesthetics of the table.

This will be very useful for anyone trying to play the mind-numbingly difficult Deep Font Challenge game. My personal favorite is Frutiger, followed very closely by Myriad. (Naturally, I also love and respect Helvetica and all its gifts to the world—I mean, it’s the only typeface to have a documentary produced about it, and is listed, quite fittingly, as the Hydrogen of the table.)

Periodic Table of Typefaces | Behance
Deep Font Challenge | via iLT

Posted in: Cool Stuff, Design

50 Tips To A User Friendly Website

I posted about the Designing Interactive usability blog a few months back. Josh Walsh at D-I has compiled a nice list of 50 tips to a user-friendly website that you should definitely check out.

I agree with almost all of them, like Clicking on the logo should take you to the home page—this has become a convention most people expect on a given site, along with highlighting your current location in the navigation bar. There are a few, however, that I might nitpick, such as always underline links, except some navigational cases (unless he means either on hover or the regular state; I note quietly that the links on his blog are text-decoration:none and only underline on hover).

Either way, it’s a great, quick read with some things to always keep in mind when building a website, so take a look and subscribe.

50 Tips to A User-Friendly Website | Designing Interactive

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Posted in: Cool Stuff, Design

Recreational Reading: Designing Interactive, A User Interface Blog

Twitter is great for keeping up with the happenings of friends and family alike, but it’s also a great tool for discovering new people and resources. Example: I follow 37signals’ @jasonfried, who tweeted back to @joshwalsh that Basecamp was up and running again. I clicked on @joshwalsh to see his original post and happened to stumble upon his great blog on usability & interface design, Designing Interactive.

Josh’s latest post goes into some detail reviewing the usability of the Old Navy site. It’s a great article, but I liked his article on red as an error state even more. (In it, he notes a specific example where an expired coupon displayed in red when it should have instead been greyed out, since the user themselves did nothing wrong, and grey brings less attention to the no longer useful data, rather than more undue attention to it.)

Josh has a lot of great advice pertaining to both the nuanced and big picture issues that designers face when developing intelligent, innovative and clean user interfaces. Do yourself a favor and add him to your feed reader promptly.

Designing Interactive

Posted in: Cool Stuff, Design

Introducing Ask HTMList.com

Sometimes, our developers are a bit too busy to come up with blog topics on their own. They’ve requested we have the masses feed them to them directly, instead.  So in an effort to make their lives easier (and to stop us from having to beat posts out of them each week), we’ve created a new category: Ask HTMList.com.  Here, we hope to open up to our readers and answer any of your questions on anything ranging from UI/UX design concepts, complex development issues, architecture and code concepts and everything in between.  We’d also love for you to seek reviews of websites, services, books or anything else related to technology or that you happen to find interesting in the field.

So start submitting your ideas for topics you’d like us to cover, your questions, and your links for our review now!  We’ve added this handy form that shows up on the sidebar when you are in the Ask HTMList section of the site to make it easier on you.   And of course, you can email your questions to ask [at] htmlist [dot] com. Try to stump us; we’ll let you know if we had to cave to Google in our responses!

Posted in: Announcements, Ask HTMList.com

8 Great Free Icon Packs for Web Developers

It’s surprising how effective a couple of great icons can be. They add polish to an application and really ties the room together, so to speak. And while some applications really need a consistent look-and-feel and thus, custom icons for every single course of action, a lot of the time, there’s no sense in reinventing the wheel. Especially when there are royalty-free, attractive icons available in convenient, aesthetically-homogenous packs. Mmm, icon packs.

So we present to you a round up of a few free icon packs that you can use in your web pages and applications.

And if you haven’t already, make sure you take a look at Smashing Magazine‘s comprehensive, enormous icons post from earlier this month: 55 Free High Quality Icon Sets

Enjoy, but make sure you note the licensing attached to these sets; some are Creative Commons-Attribution or No-Commercial.

Silk Icons” and “Flag Icons” by Famfamfam
Mini Pixel Icons by N.Design
“”Twotiny” by Paul Jarvis
Crystal Clear” by Everaldo Coelho
bwpx.icns” by Paul Armstrong
Bitcons” and “Sanscons” by Some Random Dude
Web Application Icons Set” by WebAppers
Fugue” and “Diagona” by Yasuke Kamiyamane

Other Icon Websites

Note: Not all icons on the following sites are royalty-free!

Posted in: Cool Stuff, Design