Above the Fold
You know it matters where you put that CTA, right?
WHAT DOES ABOVE THE FOLD MEAN?
"Above the fold" refers to everything you can see on a web page before scrolling
The term comes from the traditional publishing world and originally referred to newspapers, since they’re folded in half. Because it was the first thing people would see, the top half of the front page was reserved for the most important stories of the day. Part of this was because of the way newspapers were packaged, in stacks, so you’d have to physically pick it up and flip it over to see more information.
As the internet began to be a major source of everyday information, the term was adopted for web pages, too.
Why does content above the fold matter?
You only get one chance at a first impression — why not make it a good one, right? But beyond that, you’re also trying to appease the all-powerful algorithm. And part of that is optimizing content above the fold to make sure your pages rank for their target keywords and provide engaging content so that visitors are more likely to stick around.
A study from the Nielsen Norman Group found that about users spend 57% of their page-viewing time above the fold.
For some pages, it may be obvious what steps need to be taken to make it more user friendly. (Putting a call to action (CTA) for your newsletter right above the fold probably doesn’t work on your About page. After all, that’s meant to let readers know what to expect from your company and start building trust.)
For other pages, however, optimizing above the fold is easier said than done. You have to consider the purpose of the page as well as the audience that’s likely to visit that page. If it’s unclear what needs optimizing, it can help to try A/B testing. That way, you can identify what’s working, and what isn’t.
Does “above the fold” always mean the same thing?
Actually, no. The content that appears on a page can be organized differently depending on the device you’re using. So you might get a ton of information displayed above the fold if you’re using a computer. But if you go to the same page on your phone — suddenly that page looks very different before you start scrolling. That’s why responsive web design is key.
If you use a responsive layout, your audience will be less likely to leave and jack up your bounce rate, even if they’re visiting your site on their phone. (Almost 60% of web traffic now comes from mobile.)
What should you put above the fold?
Again, it depends on your goals and the audience for a given page. For example, a 3,000-word article might benefit from a table of contents at the top to relieve scroll fatigue and provide a quick preview for readers scanning to see if it’s worth their time. But it would probably make zero sense for a short, simple landing page.
In general, here are a few things you should consider putting above the fold, if they aren’t already:
- Branding: Your brand colors, fonts, and logo tell the story of your company. So they should be visible from the get-go if you want to create brand consistency.
- Navigation: Make it easier for your audience to get to the pages they need with clear headings. (e.g. ‘Home,’ ‘About,’ and ‘Contact’)
- Unique selling proposition (USP): Showcase whatever it is that makes your company better than the competition. After all, their sites are always just a few clicks away.
Another thing to consider is Google, which looks at several factors to decide how to rank pages, including:
- Relevance: Are you including target keywords throughout the page, including in headings at the top of the page?
- Quality: Is your content better than other sites? Is that clear from the start?
- Useability: Is your webpage easy to use?
Once you have a handle on those factors, you’ll be better equipped to create content that ranks well and invites readers to interact with your site.
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