My fold isn’t your fold

At the moment at St Andrews we’re working on some design tweaks for our website, based on user-feedback from current staff and students, to make the pages easier to read (more white-space, better line-height, etc.).

As part of this redesign we’ve grouped the news and events information on the homepage at the bottom of the page; below the so-called “fold”.  Similar to what the University of Louisville have done.

We’ve had a few people comment on this, that although they like the design they’re worried that people won’t scroll and that everything should be “above the fold”.

But that’s the thing: we can’t put everything at the top of the page.  Surely there have to be some design trade-offs that make it easier for the user once she has scrolled to understand what she’s looking at. That involves grouping similar items together, and using good labels, and so that’s what we’ve tried to do.

Besides, what is the fold anyway? Surely it depends entirely on the user’s screen resolution, the browser used and how many extra toolbars are displayed? My fold will likely be different to yours.

I’ve just checked the Google Analytics stats from when we launched the new university website and the site has been viewed with 849 resolutions, ranging from 0x0 (!!) to 240 x 240 up to 6400 x 5120 pixels.

Resources

A few good resources about this:

Meanwhile I’m getting on with our redesign, which should go live sometime in the summer.

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This entry was posted in Design and tagged , , by Gareth J M Saunders. Bookmark the permalink.

About Gareth J M Saunders

Hi, I'm Gareth J M Saunders, 6' 4", father of 3 boys (twins and singleton), I'm a priest in the Scottish Episcopal Church, employed as the Web Architect at the University of St Andrews. My main interests are HTML, CSS (inc. frameworks), jQuery, Information Architecture and Agile development.

2 thoughts on “My fold isn’t your fold

  1. As the designer of the site (thanks for the mention, by the way!), I can attest to the fact that we’ve gotten the same criticism.

    The reason behind this was just as you state: everything can’t have a #1 priority. In fact, good design ranks the importance of information, prioritizes it for the user. Unfortunately, something has to give. And for us, our new & events were deemed supplemental to our brand message, the “story” if you will.

    Behind the scenes, our cynical retort to fold complaints is either, “you must hate 99% of the internet, then” or, “That’s why someone invented the scroll wheel.”

    Best of luck. It’s still an uphill battle for us.

  2. Thanks for your comments Brian, much appreciated.

    I first spotted the Louisville website on the eduStyle website and was both really impressed and delighted that your design was quite similar to what we’d been working on at St Andrews.

    We’d decided too that the news and events, which we’ve also placed at the bottom of the home page, weren’t the main message that we wanted everyone to see straight away. They were a bonus, if you like, for folks who didn’t want to click into the News and Events section (which is available as a link on the main navigation at the top of the page).

    I’m sure it’ll not be the last we hear of it. But it’s certainly reassuring to hear that others are fighting the same battles elsewhere.

    Thanks again.

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