The 'Fold' - Challenging Design Myths

Challenging ‘rules’ and ‘conventional wisdom’ (what does that even mean anyways?) is important in life, work, relationships and the universe. Critical thinking is a skill that takes dedication and practice and something we could all stand to do more of. Challenging the status quo is especially important when working with a young, evolving and interactive medium like the web.

I recently came across Paddy Donnelly’s post called Life Below 600PX which fits the bill perfectly. If you care about this stuff, you’ve probably already read it, but just in case...

Paddy challenges the accepted wisdom that it’s critical to jam everything important on the front page of a website ‘above the fold’ or above the point at which a visitor must scroll to see more. This may be an old myth for most web designers today (at least I hope it is), but I'm willing to bet there are still plenty of clients who keep this one alive.

Visitors to websites in 2013 know how to scroll. In fact, it’s how we use the web. We scan and scroll, scan and scroll until we find what we want and read or click, or else move on. Even tech neophytes quickly figure out how to move a mouse scroll wheel, or more commonly, drag their finger up (down?) a touch screen.

From the article:

Imagine a newspaper squashed all of its quality content on the front page. How disappointed would you be to open the paper to only find the leftovers?

The same happens with your site. If everything of exceptional quality is pushed upon the reader at the beginning, once they start exploring and the rest of the site isn’t of the same calibre, they're going to be let down.

Instead of stuffing all the interesting or compelling content at the top of the front page, let things breathe and tell a story as users scroll down the page. They’ll be more engaged, spend more time on the site and be more likely to visit another page.

What else do you hear regurgitated as a web design 'rule' that doesn't hold up? Tell me on Twitter...