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

Cuil: Search That Sucks or: How NOT To Launch A Search Engine

Search engine Cuil (pronounce it however the hell you want to, but apparently they prefer “cool”) launched yesterday to a whole lot of “Google-killer” OMG vibes. And thus far, it really rather sucks.

The home page is Google-simplistic: Logo. Input box. Search button. Over-inflated index count. About link. Privacy link. On black. (Which is, I hear, the new black.) Start typing and a helpful suggest engine ala Google Suggest pops up. Cheers.

Try to search. One of several things will happen. Since we’re out of the “our servers are cooked” phase of things, chances are, you’ll get a results page. But if you were lucky to give it a shot early on, you’d just be flat presented with a “no results found” page. I searched “web application development” and “web development” and both came up with a 0-results page. This is apparently because the caching system isn’t able to retrieve results on the first request so instead places them in a queue. Except that Cuil doesn’t bother telling you that they’re still getting their shit together and that you’ll need to check back when they’ve actually pulled and cached those results. Not that you’d want to. Here’s why, after the jump.

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Posted in: Rants

Reviewing Facebook’s New Design: A Look At The News Feed

Facebook releases their new design tomorrow to the masses, after months of letting it percolate and allowing developers access to ensure compatibility with their apps.

While it’s clear that a lot of thought has gone into the redesign, it’s not so obvious what they did with all that thought, since the redesign really rather travels two steps backwards in a lot of ways. (Though I actually like the new profile pages, they’ll take some getting used to for sure and I’ll focus on them in another post.)

Hit the jump and let’s take a look at the new News Feed/Home Page for now.

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Posted in: Design, Rants

Collaborative Idiocy: Intrigo and the Wiki-As-A-Company-Website Approach

From time to time, we like to survey the tech community around us and see who else swims in our pond. Our clients are from all over the country (nay, the world!) and while we’re “competitors,” there is *plenty* of work to go around. Plus, we’ve found that sharing our experiences and making friends only helps us better ourselves and each other.

That said, one of our competitors has attempted one of the stupider things I’ve seen online: a MediaWiki-based corporate website. I’m not one to typically outright pan those in the same space online; we all do dumb things from time to time. But this just seems righteously boneheaded to me.

Intrigo is a web development company in Tucson. They service mostly small businesses and startups. And their corporate website is a Wiki that anyone can edit. Without creating an account or logging in or anything.

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Posted in: Rants

Meet Edgar Hassler: Lead Developer & Office Miser

I’m Edgar Hassler, and I resent having to write an about me blog post. I’m miserly, misanthropic, and am to blame for a good deal of development at the Studios. After an unfortunate misunderstanding with Bob’s sister, the guys gave me the nickname “The Bear”. We don’t really know how long I’ve been here, but it’s been more than thirteen Linux is Ready for the Desktop Slashdot cycles, or roughly three earth years. In addition to being a developer I’m also a student in statistics and I am the captain of the Synapse Studios Step Team, “The Steppers”.

If I show up on the blog it will be either liquor fueled angry polemics that will undoubtedly be deleted by Chris once he finds them, or something about ECMA-262-3, or maybe tributes to John Singleton—I read about him a lot in GoF, Alur and Fowler.

I might also write about dive day, where we travel up main street looking for shady restaurants to have lunch in a form of adventure dining that almost never ends up with someone sick or us becoming unwitting accomplices to a “jacking”.

Finally, I’m also a fan of beards, including Doug Crockford’s beard, but especially the maestro—Ben Bernanke—and his beard.

Posted in: People