"Above the Fold"
What does it mean and does it matter?

March 23, 2016

In the world of web design you will hear the term “above the fold”.  If you are asking yourself what this means, sit back and let us take you on a journey back to the 1990’s (!).  Long ago, back when flash or hit counters were popular and everyone used a desktop computer, it was standard that any important information or calls to action be at the top of the screen, so that site visitors would not have to scroll down to see it.  Any great web designer or web design agency knew that if you wanted your audience to see your message or click on your link, it had to be at the top of the page.  The top of the page was prime real estate.  

Fast forward to today – while our antiquated beliefs regarding keeping all important and relevant content at the top of the page may still hold some truth, the world of computers and web design have evolved.  These days we use many devices with different screen sizes - laptops, iPads, smartphones.  Think about a wide screen, high-resolution monitor, now imagine how that coverts on your smartphone. Responsive websites and a multitude of screen sizes have changed the game.  People now are much more comfortable with scrolling. This variation in how each site visitor views a web page makes it difficult to set a standard “above the fold” guideline.  The notion of “above the fold” is, practically speaking, obsolete.  

What is important is that the first thing the user sees on a site, regardless of device, is interesting, immersive and inviting so that they will scroll. Call to actions can be below the fold, but you just need some sort of “story” - whether that be a visual story, amazing, page-scrolling content, or both - that will capture the user.  Eye tracking studies, user testing and click data have shown that the “above the fold” is no longer relevant and that site users know to scroll and will scroll if interested. 

There are important things that should be included at first glance of a website, but those things will often differ depending on the purpose of the website and the target audience. Having clear objectives at the start of a web design project will shape not just the design, but the site structure and content as well.  As a general rule, the site should inform the user at first glance its purpose. There should be visual cues leading to scrolling and compelling content. 

Scrolling is not a bad thing, if anything, it’s an opportunity to interact more with your users and tell your story. Just be sure you are giving them what they want. A well designed site will do that. 

At Bizango, we specialize in Solution-Driven Design. It’s more than a clean, bold look. It’s a strategy that drives results, through attracting customers, increased sales and retaining loyal customers. Have questions about how we can help you launch an amazing new website? Give us a call. 

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