Quick! When’s the last time you picked up a newspaper?
Wait, can you even buy a physical newspaper anymore?
Although they’re outdated, they were wildly popular for a reason. However, the internet has taken over. It’s easier than its ever been to find up-to-date news, trends, information, and more.
All you have to do is pull out your phone.
So, web pages can be considered digital newspapers, yeah? Their purpose is to share information. It’s no wonder website design has taken a page or two out of the book of newspaper design.
Above the fold website design is a common technique used to capture fleeting attention.
Although the way we consume information has changed, one thing that hasn’t changed is the length of our attention span. We were easily distracted then and we’re easily distracted now.
Keep reading to learn more about why first impressions matter and how you can use them to your advantage.
What does Above the Fold Website Design Actually Mean?
The term “above the fold” comes from an era in which newspapers and newsstands were commonplace. Due to their large size, newspapers were folded in half when displayed on the shelf. Passerbys were met with the information presented above the fold of the paper.
Although newspapers and other forms of print media aren’t as common today, many web designers have taken the same design concepts and applied them to our digital world.
Today, above the fold refers to the visible content on a screen as soon as a page loads. It’s the first thing your readers see before they scroll down the page.
Think of it as the top half of the front page of a newspaper.
Have Users Started Scrolling in 2019?
The short answer is yes.
In the early 1990s, no one knew what scrolling was. But, by the late 1990s, users started learning how to scroll down the page. This is one of the biggest changes in online user behaviour since the beginning of the internet.
Although scrolling is normal behaviour, readers spend 57% of their time digesting content placed above the fold. At the end of the day, the higher something is on a page, the more likely it is that someone will read it.
Putting the Most Important Information First isn’t Always the Answer
If I asked you to pick out the most important sentence on your home page, could you do it? Probably not. That’s because every word is crafted specifically to deliver your message.
All of it is important. But, that doesn’t mean it all deserves a coveted space in your header. Cramming too much information above the fold may leave your readers desperate for the back button.
It’s a critical design mistake many web designers fall victim to.
So, What is Above the Fold Content Supposed to Do?
Nearly everything about our behaviour has changed since the days of reading a newspaper. But, there’s one thing that hasn’t changed at all: our attention span. The internet is a vast place full of distractions.
The purpose of above the fold content is to capture attention.
You have less than 15 seconds to captivate your reader and convince them to keep scrolling. Above the fold content isn’t supposed to give away all of the important information. It’s supposed to give them just enough so that they have to keep reading.
Calls to Action: Above or Below the Fold?
That’s a good question. But, there isn’t a good answer.
Because a user spends over half their time viewing content above the fold, it’s good practice to include your strongest call to action. However, it’s performance depends on the complexity of your offer.
Calls to action that show immediate benefit to your audience will outperform complex offers with no immediate benefit.
You know what action you want your readers to take but you have to convince them it’s worth it. If you can do that in a few bullet points or a single sentence, place it above the fold.
However, if your offer needs an extensive explanation, examples, or a deeper understanding, an above the fold call to action won’t perform as well.
Display Ads Don’t Belong in Your Website’s Header
Why wouldn’t you want something that generates revenue to be in the most high-engagement area of your website?
That’s a question I can give a solid answer to.
- Ads are clunky and generally bad for website usability
- Google hates a cluster of advertisements above the fold because it creates an awful user experience
- They don’t help tell your brand’s story
- Ads won’t capture anyone’s attention
Above the fold content is about what you have to offer. Filling it with display advertisements for other businesses is a disservice to your brand.
Not all Screens are Created Equal
The amount of space available above the fold varies significantly from a phone to a desktop computer. Furthermore, desktops, tablets, and phones come in a variety of different sizes.
This variability makes it nearly impossible to predict what a user will actually see.
Most users browse the internet on a mobile device. So, it’s considered best practice to use common smartphone dimensions as a starting point when designing for a mobile experience.
Old School Above the Fold Design Theory is Dead
Traditional above the fold website design techniques have taken a backseat to exceptional user experiences. Telling a story and showcasing what’s in it for them creates a captivating message that stands out among the noise.
If you’re struggling to capture the essence of your brand, don’t worry. Web design is a complex study of human emotions, psychology, and how we interact with our environment. Plus, it’s evolving by the second.
Our expert team is here to help take some of that weight off your shoulders.
NuBranch Media is a top-tier Toronto web design company. We believe that every business deserves a professional website without having to pay an arm and a leg. Our team of dedicated web designers specializes in modern design theory and converting your casual visitors into customers.
Check out our award-winning web design plans to get started, today.