Over the years that I’ve been developing websites, things have changed dramatically. If there’s one thing that hasn’t changed, it’s that the world of web development and design is constantly changing. As manufacturers continue to create more and more devices with varying screen sizes, designers and developers are finding new ways to make sites that work on “all” devices.
Because things change so quickly, it becomes hard for clients to understand why we design things the way we do. Clients have their own set of challenges with process and improvements, so it’s up to us to give our best recommendation on how to keep up or move beyond current trends. It’s also our job to find the solution that best fits their particular goals, not just glom onto the current fads. One trend that has come to light in recent years—and does not seem to be going anywhere soon—is the idea of longer “scrolling” pages.
When we talk about scrolling, it can mean many things. When you hear that a site is “scrolling,” you might think of a design in which you click on the navigation and the site jumps to a particular part of the page. Or you might picture some type of effect or interaction you come across on a page.
What I’m referring to is the length of the page specifically. For years, people have designed websites in which you go to a general home page and navigate to new pages with different information (or a more granular piece of that same information) by clicking a link or navigation item. Pages like these often have a bunch of information up top, but very little information below. This trend prompted the industry term “above the fold,” borrowed from the world of print newspapers. On a website, above the fold means that everything important shows within a particular screen size, without the user having to scroll down to see what else is on the page.
With screen sizes constantly changing, and the way people consume that information changing, that trend has really gone by the wayside.
Tablets have really changed the way people browse the web.
And we’ve seen a corresponding change in the way people consume a website. We’ve started to see a more static navigation element at the top that will lead you to a place lower on the same page with more information. If you want, you’re able to take your finger and slide it down the page to see more and more of that information.
While that concept is still prevalent, we’re seeing other sites, also tablet and mobile friendly, with even newer concepts in play. The sites we’re seeing today have not only a single page with long sets of information that you scroll to, but multiple pages with that same paradigm. As a shop full of amazing writers, we think this is the coolest thing since sliced bread. Now, we can give the user more information, more visuals, more callouts, and more opportunity to include cool interactive elements.
What challenges do these long pages present? Well, they mostly just take some getting used to. People who are used to seeing everything right at the top of the page will soon figure out that there’s more to be seen further down. Especially once they get used to navigating pages on their mobile devices.
What’s next, we’re not sure. But you can bet we’ll be on the lookout for the trends that help our clients get their message out in a more effective and attractive way. And it’s not just about keeping up with the Joneses. Outdated design makes any message (no matter how up-to-date) look stale. One place consumers will never scroll to is wherever you put the copyright date. When was the last time you ran across it?
Probably the last time you ventured…below the fold.