‘Above the fold’ is a phrase often banded about by marketeers and the concept is something very useful to each and every website owner.
Here we’ll explore the roots of the phrase and it’s meaning – as well as how it relates to modern day advertising.
Above the fold is a term which used to be associated with the printing industry. It refers to the part of a newspaper that you see when it is folded in half – which happened most when newspapers were too big to be held or distributed comfortably when unfolded.
This still happens on some newspapers such as The Times and the Independent…..which are considered ‘Broadsheet’ newspapers.
It is a valid and important advertising strategy to make sure that the headline and first words on the page we enticing enough to convince would-be purchasers to investigate the article further – by buying the paper.
Nowadays, the equivalent is what you see when a visitor loads your website on their screen.
The first thing they see without scrolling is what is considered ‘above the fold’ and is important to entice the user to investigate your website further.
As a general rule, you have 3 seconds to make an impact otherwise the user will press the back button (often to a search engine) and try the next entry in the list.
There is something of a debate raging at the moment as to what is ‘best practice’ to show above the fold.
More traditional digital marketers (if that can be considered a real statement) would suggest that some kind of attractive imagery with a call to action, and a headline outlining either the overall gist of what you do or your offering should be the standard practice when someone lands on your page.
Other noted digital marketers such as Chris Cardell are stating that the age of the slideshow or large banner is dead and that an informative and catchy headline plus the first paragraphs of your offer should be used, rather than ‘wasting’ your 3 seconds on some potentially pointless imagery.
Both arguments are valid, and it is a matter of opinion at the moment – although I’m sure both sides could come up with statistics to back up their point of view.
However, we believe that you need to understand that the point is that you have to:
- understand that that the content you show ANYWHERE on your website is important and should be tracked and
- that you need to understand your audience.
3 Essential Features You Need on Every Page
I think all sides would agree that the following checklist should be accessible from above the fold on ANY page on your website:
- Your Logo – so that users know they have landed on the correct site if coming as a referral from other media.
- Your contact details – so they can contact you straight away even on a poor connection. This often includes phone, email and social media. Physical address is usually visible in the footer or on the contact page – but of course, there are exceptions.
- A Call To Action – important for getting users to do something that you want straight away.
What About Above the Fold on Mobile Devices?
It is really important to consider in this day an age that mobile traffic (users visiting your website off mobiles and tablets) will see your website in a different way – because of the reduced size of the viewport.
This means that different elements of the design will be visible and will take up a totally different proportion of the screen – and this can affect the ‘above the fold’ content your visitors see.
It’s important to test your website on some mobile devices to ensure that the crucial elements of your above the fold content are visible and accessible to visitors who have landed on your website on a mobile device.
Above the Fold in Summary
Consider what your visitors are seeing when they first land on your web pages – and don’t just consider your homepage as the page they will land on.
It’s important that each page be interesting and attractive in order to compel your visitor to scroll down the page and hopefully be interested enough to interact with the page (share, bookmark or comment if available).
By ensuring that your pages are interesting above the fold, you can help increase the length of time visitors are on the page and potentially engagement – both of which can positively affect your Google ranking as pages which people are engaged with and interacting with are ranked more highly than those which are not.