Above the fold
||This article includes a list of references, but its sources remain unclear because it has insufficient inline citations. (May 2011)|
Above the fold is the upper half of the front page of a newspaper where an important news story or photograph is often located. Papers are often displayed to customers folded so that only the top half of the front page is visible. Thus, an item that is "above the fold" may be one that the editors feel will entice people to buy the paper. Alternatively, it reflects a decision, on the part of the editors, that the article is one of the day's most important. By extension, the space above the fold is also preferred by advertisers, since it is the most prominent and visible even when the newspaper is on stands.
The term can be used more generally to refer to anything that is prominently displayed or of highest priority. Above the fold is sometimes used in web development to refer the portions of a webpage that are visible without scrolling.
The term was coined by Steve Thompson, principal of w8r.com, a freelance Web design and development firm, in the mid-90s. Thompson's approach to usability came from his decade-long media background in broadcast and print. He moved professionally into new media from traditional media in 1994-95, when he began designing scroll-free Web sites, including the most heavily trafficked Web site at Penn State, the Department of Meteorology. Thompson used the term as a specialty in client portfolio pitches on elance.com in 2000.
Thompson was hired in 1998 as Creative Project Manager for [World Wide] Web Associates, an Internet start-up in San Luis Obispo, CA, whose clients included Apple, HP, Lucent, and others. His expertise in Macromedia Flash, a vector-based software technology important for allowing browser constraint of content independent of screen resolution, addressed critical concerns with cross-browser design support for Web site interfaces. Talks at Web Associates for client-based initiatives included Thompson's above-the-fold approach to Web usability. Thompson took his above the fold approach with him to academe in 1997 as an instructor for designing Web sites with the Learning Tree in Thousand Oaks, CA, and in 1999 while helping the University of Phoenix in Southern California implement its Bachelor of Science in Information Technology program with course instruction in its Web Track, since deprecated.
Key to Thompson's 'above the fold' approach to Web design has always been insistence on bringing major, critical elements of the interface design immediately upfront for the user. While at Web Associates as an Integrator brainstorming on usability design issues, an initial problem leading to this concern with select clients was design of the interface to keep the user from jumping off a Web site prematurely, either before finding what was being sought, or because the site might lack intuitive navigation for ease of use. Thompson's design solution was to continue to do what newspapers do -- mainly as expressed in street kiosks designed to grab the attention of the passerby leading to a sale -- and that was to provide the most important information above the fold as a design imperative. Thompson further publicized his above-the-fold approach to Web design and interface prototyping extensively in 2000 as a Brainbench-certified Master of Flash interface producer for clients on elance.com, including elance itself, until 2001.
The 'above the fold' term has entered the lexicon as requisite in successful Web design usability.
Some Web marketers have called this above the scroll or "above the crease", referring to the way in which newspapers are folded and creased.
Newspaper stories that appear below the fold are said to be located “under the fold.”
Internet search query results appear much in the same way. Many web site optimization efforts may be exerted in an attempt gain the highest "search indexing" or "ranking" placement (as close to first place as possible) for directed term(s) or phrase(s). Using natural or "organic" web site optimization practices has been the standard operating procedure for attaining higher indexing with the end result being the web site appearing in the view area or "above the fold" of the search results pages and especially the first page.
Infrequently used in reference to resume and CV (curriculum vitae) layout, where the most crucial and relevant (to the job sought) information must be in the top third, alternately called the "hot zone", to catch the attention of the reader. Since most applicants file credentials electronically, and applications are no longer folded in thirds to fit in an envelope, the advice remains, even though the means of distribution has changed.
Below the Fold 
The part of the page that is not above the fold.
The part of a webpage that can't be seen without scrolling down.
- Why do we use vertical scrolling?
- Screen Resolution and Page Layout by Jakob Nielsen
- "Scrolling and Attention" by Jakob Nielsen, March 22, 2010
- The myth of the page fold, evidence from user testing by Fiz Yazdi and Joe Leech
- Blasting the Myth of the Fold by Milissa Tarquini, on Boxes and Arrows
- Myth: People don't scroll
- Unfolding the Fold by ClickTale
- Find the fold and browser sizing at foldtester.com