Planning a website is not an easy task, indeed. At the first stage, you have a pen and a paper and everything goes pretty smooth. Then you sit down before a computer, open your designing/prototyping software (Photoshop, Fireworks, Balsamiq Mockups, MS Word...) and start implementing your layout in a real internet world dimensions. And then 'BAM' ... you understand, that a lot of important elements aren 't above the fold and there is no free space above the fold and if you will put everything above the fold what's about principles of 'White space is the King" and "Make your design clear"? What to do? Of course you 're concerned, because you heard a lot about the critical FOLD space and even your client's marketer knows this word and he is insisting that their ad block and company mission and navigation and featured content section and quick links and search box and and and bla bla bla to be placed above the fold.
Fold...yeah...a nightmare... how many websites are so heavy on top and so 'naked' at bottom? Lots! Just look around. This is because the Fold became one of the most popular disbeliefs for web designers and marketers nowadays. The roots of this term are from newspapers industry , where, due to physical dimensions, newspapers are usually folded in the middle and hot stories are placed above this fold for the purpose to be noticed by readers and, of course, to be bought. Just a simple marketing.
The biggest disbelief that supports the Fold's existence in web design sounds like " Users don't scroll". However, Jakob Nielsen, worldwide respected usability guru, wrote about the growing acceptance and understanding of scrolling in 1997. And in 1997 there were not so many mice with a scrolling wheel! Yet 13 years later we still hear about "People don't like to scroll". But they do! Thanks to blogs, thanks for Facebook 's long walls, thanks to gossip websites with a looong pages full of pics of drunken stars people got used to scroll. Just notice how often you do scroll. But of course, to make them scroll you need to engage them! Two big secrets to make users scroll are: use compelling content and visual cues (such as cut-off images and text).
Every screen has its dimensions depending on user's monitor size: 800x600, 1024x768, 1600x1200 and so on. If you're building a design for already existing website, look at Google Analytics stats about most popular screen resolutions and determine your most targeted resolution. However, without looking at stats, I'd say that today it is worth to target for a 1024x768. So we have 768px at height, so this is the Fold, yes? No! Don't forget about vertical space consumed by taskbar and browser's panels. Just take your onscreen ruler and measure! In the end we'll come up with 620px - 640px space. So this is our Fold.
Here are few tips or maybe even check list of what should be 100% placed above the fold: