In print and web design, optimizing the content that appears above 'the fold' (ie. the part that appears to a viewer first, without scrolling/opening) is given serious consideration. But is designing with the fold in mind just as relevant to email?
There are strong 'for' and 'against' arguments when it comes to putting special effort into the upper portion of an email design. In a world where the average email is read for only 51 seconds, a lot can be said for making a special first impression. However, can this mindset be obstructive to our overall design goals?
In the 'for' camp would be our good friend Paul Boag, whose recent post, 'User experience: Does the fold matter?' features a video that is just as relevant to email as it is the web:
After explaining the concept of 'the fold', Paul argues that designing with it in mind makes designers consider visual hierarchy. Plus, by presenting suitable content above the fold, readers are given suitable incentive to scroll to view the rest of the content.
"Whilst it’s important to make sure your campaigns are engaging, I think we worry too much about getting all of our content in the preview pane area." However, this is countered by Email Design Review, whose post, 'The Fold and Email', states that the digital fold is unimportant - scrolling is easy, so we shouldn't be applying antiquated print concepts to the web or email. Secondly, the 'put everything above the fold' mentality only encourages designers to cram content into a space that's undefinably dimensioned - while the fold could be the first 600px of a design in a desktop email client, it's usually much less than that in webmail and mobile clients.
Finally, instead of passing a hard-and-fast recommendation on this polarizing topic, we'd like to hear your opinion. Does the fold matter to you when designing for email? Let us know in the comments below.
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