Users aren’t afraid of scrolling.

Why you should design below the fold.

I entered my first senior role as a web designer with the premise of redesigning an existing website.

About six months into my job, I was given a box of folders and papers by our office secretary, who said they belonged to the former web designer. This box used to hold ten reams of printer paper, and now it held the shreds of fifteen. I scoured through the papers, trying to distinguish important information from kindling.

Then, a piece of paper fell onto the floor in front of me. It was a printed email, and in it, held the foundation of the former home page. It contained an analytic snapshot of browser windows. The body of the e-mail read,

“Maximum home page dimensions: 970 pixels by 722 pixels. Visitors must never scroll.”

The website was designed for failure, to succumb to the Web 1.0 era, and to require a redesign after just two years. The footer didn't even touch the bottom of my Mac’s display.

“Below the fold,” is a term originally coined by the newspaper industry. It was defined as the visible material printed in the top or bottom half of a broadsheet newspaper. It later transitioned into the web as the content of a web page visible without scrolling down the page.

The thing is, the web is not a part of the newspaper era. It never has been, and probably never will be. There was a time when scroll bars were scary, loading times were painfully slow, and designing “above the fold” was a key part of the web. The industry has changed. The introduction of parallax websites unveiled a new proposition for web designers and users around the globe.

I say this to web designers everywhere,

It is now safe to design web pages understanding that users can easily scroll with a finger or two.

Your pages should still be captivating, and important content should be present without requiring users to scroll. However, limit that content. Trying to crunch all of the important information into a tight space is poor design, and also decreases efficient usability and your user’s overall satisfaction with the website.

Design websites knowing that your users will scroll if necessary.

Aim to create content that makes them want to scroll.