Good UX Means Good Business
In a world where technology is rapidly advancing and user expectations are rising, it’s no longer enough to have an average user experience; to delight your users and surpass your competition you must strive for the exceptional.
Let’s get something out of the way right at the start: There is no such thing as the fold on the Web!! Anyone who tells you differently is more wrong than Wrongly Wrongham of 14 Wrongingford Road, Wrongleton; winner of last year’s Mr Wrong Contest.
OK, silliness out of the way early. It’s time to talk about the problems with the pervasive attitude of The Fold.
- Whose fold are we talking about? Yours on that swanky 1920×1200 laptop display? Or mine on my iPad’s 1024×768 screen? How about your iPhone’s display? Where’s the fold on that? Different devices means different interactions with your site, and the concept of the fold is blown away.
- Do you really believe all your users have forgotten how to scroll? In this era of mobile browsing, where everything is a swipe away? Trust me, they haven’t.
- Is the most important content always going to be at the top? What happened to the concept of the teaser? If we always shove everything as close to the top of the page as we can, inevitably users will get pretty fed up when they realize the rest of the site isn’t up to snuff.
- The Web is different from print. Accept this truism and move on. The concept of the fold was born in print. It lives on in print, and will continue to do so for quite some time. It’s right that it remains there, and wrong that is has been brought over to the Web and turned into something as ugly and pervasive as it has.
Before Perficient I worked with someone who firmly believed their “vision” (oh yes, this person used that word) of a website was The One True Way, and 1024×768 was The One True Resolution. It delighted me to present wireframes to this person, only to be told (fingers together in a pyramid as they spoke), that “Martin, we really need to be getting more content above the fold, you know. I really need you to see that.” Suffice it to say, I’d flip to the next slide (the mobile resolution slide) and watch this person’s face fall a little. I can be cruel like that.
But this nameless someone came from a print mindset, and – unfortunately – wasn’t able to break themselves of it, despite all the evidence to the contrary, and the amount of business they were trying to win in the digital space. So web projects would run over as we’d make iteration after iteration, cramming more and more content above an imaginary fold (all completely unbidden by the client, by the way), until this person was satisfied. Then we’d present to the client, the client would hate it (wouldn’t you?), and I’d whip out my original wireframes, untouched by meddling hands, which were inevitably declared winners.
If we ignore the complexities of multiple devices with different resolutions (which comes with its own – blindingly obvious – reason why we need to ignore anyone who uses the phrase, “above the fold”), and simply focus for a moment on a desktop website, ask yourself one key question: Do I want my customers to get everything they asked for right at the beginning of their interaction with your website? Probably not. (Note: I’m not for one second saying hide your content, hee hee hee!) What you want is to build anticipation as your users explore your site. Make interacting with the site as much a part of the experience as the payoff at the end.
Parallax scrolling websites can be great examples of exactly this kind of interactivity. One of the best is Ben the Bodyguard. Go on, take a look. And scroll!