Friday, November 14, 2008

the ONE says "There is no fold."

There is no fold. Forget it. You know how I know there's no fold? You can't bend the Internet. Yet.

Here goes - a blog post after a night of bad, mad, wicked, cool insomnia.

You can't bend the Internet so there is no fold. Look, line three and I'm already repeating myself. There's nothing wrong with scrolling, neither. You know how I know? There are scroll bars on the Internet and you can grab them and use them. In fact, you can click and drag them. You can click and hold on an arrow. You can move up and down to see.

So there is no fold.

Resolution is only relevant in that we need to design for the lowest HORIZONTAL common denominator. Scrolling left to right is really only allowed when we are being "artistic". We aren't usually "artistic" when we're building dotcoms or ecoms or recons. So if you're building a website for frozen yogurt with a cute little animated girl who runs from side to side and floats around and make the world lovely then sure you can scroll side to side but for now, let's assume you should avoid that. Why? Usually there's some kind of dock or some controls and stuff at the bottom of your screen and side scrolling can be irritating as a result. Usually there's enough junk at the top and bottom of your screen so you don't want to add more. Blah blah blah. But as far as a fold is concerned. I defy you to find one. I defy you to tell me the x and y coords that people are people stretching and shrinking their browsers to these days.

Oh sure there are stats. There will always be stats. There have always been stats. And stats are better than they used to be. Have you ever been part of an old-school survey? Taken the call? Filled out the papers? Kept track of your viewing habits with a pen? Yeah. Stats are better now because Google "knows". Google sees. Google measures and that is great and I love that stuff cuz it's just sick how Google has a third eye. Kind of. But until Google knows what mood I'm in when I fall out of bed and haven't slept a wink, there is no fold.

Maybe it's because I'm tired but I'm very pleased with the Matrix-spoon-fold-bend-quantum big idea here. Am I the only one that sees it? People who have been sleep deprived begin to hallucinate within the first few days. Let's look that up.....(time passes)

Research subjects who have undergone sleep deprivation experiments typically begin to hallucinate after 72–96 hours without sleep. It is thought that these hallucinations result from the malfunctioning of nerve cells within the prefrontal cortex of the brain. This area of the brain is associated with judgment, impulse, control, attention, and visual association, and is refreshed during the early stages of sleep. When a person is sleep-deprived, the nerve cells in the prefrontal cortex must work harder than usual without an opportunity to recover. The hallucinations that develop on the third day of wakefulness are thought to be hypnagogic hallucinations that occur during "microsleeps or short periods of light sleep lasting about one to ten seconds.**

Back to the present.

Gone are the days when people surfed with their browsers full screen. Gone are the days where a 14" monitor at 8x6 was our stake in the ground. There are too many computers and too many browsers and too many users to determine where the fold is any more. It's over. Let's stop talking about the fold and just agree that we'd like to have as much RELEVANT content at the top of our page as possible. That being said we should stop trying to jam in 3 levels of navigation. Stop trying to force leaderboards and bboxes and second bboxes and all that above the fold. You can't say where the fold is so let's just agree that as much content RELEVANT content that we can have within the first 750 VERTICAL pixels and keep it about 900 pixels wide and call it a day. Are those ads relevant? Yes. Then we have to accomodate for them. Is 3 levels of nav relevant? That's another post altogether.

What we need to do if we're going to push forward is just take a breath and think. If we just keep relying on what the next best resolution is, we'll keep talking about the Internet like our experience of it doesn't change with
  1. technology
  2. how many apps we have open
  3. what we're surfing for at that moment
  4. who just jumped on and off our computers
  5. whether the phone just rang
  6. whether i just got distracted by an "allow window to be opened?" prompt
  7. if i'm on my laptop and connected to an external monitor
  8. if that changes my settings
  9. if it's sunny and there's a glare on my screen
  10. what browser i'm using based on what OS i'm using
  11. based on what works in safari vs. explorer vs. firefox vs. the next new thing
  12. based on what awful site resized my browser in the first place
  13. how many pop up windows just took over my screen because that's not in my prefs
  14. or someone turned that off without telling me
  15. cuz my kids are using my computer
  16. or how i had to change my prefs for my grandfather who is half legally blind
  17. and he wants to play poker
  18. or i didn't sleep last night
So how can we be sure and how much time do we spend talking about the content below the fold when really we should be developing strategies regarding what's at the top of the page and WHY it needs to be there and what we're trying to communicate and what technology can we best put to use in order to ensure that what we're trying to communicate is communicated?

(Scroll down.)


** I took that information from here.

(Now scroll sideways...kidding.)

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