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Web Design Fold, What is it and Why is it Important in Web Design?

In web design the ‘fold’ is one of the most important considerations in terms of visibility and click through, learn how to use it.

The Anatomy of a Google-Friendly Website

At some point, you’ve probably read something about putting certain things “above the fold,” but have no idea what it means. Don’t fret; a lot of people don’t know what “above the fold” is all about.

It’s a phrase that is most commonly used in the traditional publishing industry, but has made the jump to the digital world as well. Marketers, writers, SEO service providers, and people who provide web design solutions come across this phrase regularly since it continues to be an essential element in their field.

So what exactly is this “above the fold” in web design that we’re talking about?

Started with newspapers

above the fold newspaper

If you come across a newsstand in your neighborhood, then you can see this “above the fold” thing in action the way it was originally intended. More often than not, newspapers on sale are folded in a way that only shows their top half, which bears the banner headline and in some cases, a striking photograph.

The primary reason why newspapers are folded and displayed that way is to catch the attention of passersby and make them take in the headline and be intrigued enough by it to buy the whole thing. Judging by the mark newspapers have made in the history of mass media, the above the fold thing actually worked. It’s probably why the digital world—web design in particular—has taken to putting the most attractive and attention-grabbing stuff above the fold as well.

Does a website even have a “fold”?

You will need a little imagination if you’re wondering where the fold is on a website. Since websites can’t be folded like newspapers, then what is regarded as the fold is the viewable area that can be seen without scrolling down.

Anything you see immediately see onscreen the moment you access a website is “above the fold.”

The moment you scroll down, you’re below the fold and that’s when views and click through typically drops dramatically.

Why web design fold is still important

Admittedly, many in the digital field are already saying that the concept of keeping things above the fold has become obsolete.

Still, many web designers continue to see it as a “best practice” in their field. After all, web designers typically have clients who want maximum attention for their brand. Once they become aware of the concept, clients will want the most essential elements of their brand to be the first thing that visitors see. Putting them above the fold, of course, is the best way to do that.

There’s also the fact that many web advertising companies require webmasters to place ads somewhere prominent—and that’s usually above the fold.

There’s a reason advertisers demand that above the fold area too…

According to HubSpot, “55% of visitors spend fewer than 15 seconds on your website.”

A 2014 Google study found that,

ads with viewability defined as 50% of the ad’s pixels being on-screen for one second, ads just above the fold had 73% viewability, whereas ads just below the fold only had 44% viewability.

Above the fold issues

As proven over time, putting crucial, eye-catching information above the fold has its benefits. Problems, however, may arise when web designers get carried away. Because of the above the fold mindset, some web designers cram all the good stuff up top, while the area below the fold has basically nothing that will keep visitors interested.

When this is the case, the most likely scenario would be of visitors getting hyped up by what they see above the fold, only to be disappointed by what greets them once they touch that scroll bar. The end result would then be those disappointed visitors bouncing off your website to another.

The above the fold mentality also tends to lead to a cluttered page. With all the good stuff crammed into the upper half of the page, there won’t be much whitespace left. Your site’s readability will definitely take a hit.

Even with such potential problems, it still makes sense to grab the attention of people right away, which is what things above the fold unfailingly do. What web designers have to do is keep that tendency to stuff everything up top in check. They must reserve some of the interesting stuff for the part below the fold to keep readers engaged. With such an approach, visitors won’t feel disappointed when they scroll down. When they see that the rest of the page offers something just as valuable, the likelihood of visitors staying and exploring the website further becomes higher.

So what should go above the fold?

Anything that would identify and showcase the brand of the owner of the website should go above the fold. The company logo should be right up there, along with other visual information that is distinctly associated with its brand.

The company’s unique selling point should also be up top because it’s what makes the brand unique. It also helps visitors decide whether or not it’s worth their time to check what the site has to offer.

In a world dominated by social media, it would also be great for websites to have links to their social media accounts displayed prominently above the fold. That way, visitors to the website can easily check out the brand’s Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram feeds.

Navigation elements should also make it above the fold. Then again, the left-hand side, as well as the bottom of the page, is also a good place to put them.

Conclusion

People can keep arguing about whether or not the idea of keeping stuff above the fold is still relevant to this day. Still, the fact remains that teasers—which is precisely what all those things above the fold are—are exceptionally great at grabbing the attention of people.

“Above the fold” works, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

For more information on landing page strategy to improve conversions, click here.

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