Web Design News 26/07/10

Paul Boag

This week: Why the fold doesn’t matter, big wins with quick changes and what’s the best size for a search box?

Life below 600px

If there’s one thing that clients mention that makes designers and developers see the red mist it’s the concept of ‘the fold’. A popular concept from the print era, when newspaper headlines were displayed at the top so that they could be read when the paper was folded, it migrated to the computer age and denotes where content disappears below the bottom edge of the screen. The majority of designers know that most users know how to scroll, and the increase in screen resolutions mean that the fold is a vague concept rather than a defined limit, yet we often struggle to explain this properly to our clients when challenged.

Graphic showing the location of a mouse scrollwheel

Paddy Donnelly has written a fantastic article which is a physical explanation why the fold doesn’t matter, and why designing for a fold may even damage your site goals in certain situations. It’s written in a way where you could send the link to your client and let them learn exactly why the fold doesn’t matter as much as they think it does. So the next time your client asks where the fold is, send them here!

Big wins with quick changes

Lather, rinse and repeat. If there’s one thing shampoo bottles have taught us, it’s that we shouldn’t just do something once, we should keep trying until we’re happy, or our shampoo runs out. In the web design world, iterative design is an effective method of ensuring your site is effective, and responds to user feedback.

Ryan Carson shares a recent iteration of the Think Vitamin Membership site, explaining how the original wireframes how they reworked the wireframes and the site based on this feedback and made some changes to their microcopy which resolved the issues they had in a reactive fashion in a short amount of time.

What’s the best search box size?

Search is an important component of any large website, especially online retailers, yet little thought really goes into how that search box works, and how many characters should be viewable. Luckily for us, Christian Watson has trawled the top 30 websites out of the Internet Retailers top 500 list, and determined the average number of characters that these sites use in their search boxes.

Search boxes from major online retailers

Wether this actually makes a difference or not is yet to be seen, but when that time comes when you have to decide how large to make that search box, remember this little piece of research which will help you make up your mind.