Why the Page Fold Still Matters

Andrea Palmer

Published Tue 17 Feb by Andrea Palmer in Recommended Articles and Perfecting Your Website's Design

This article covers what it means for your website and offers practical guidance to encourage your visitors to venture below the fold.

Did you know that people viewing web pages pay a huge 84% more attention to information that is above the fold?

Regardless of screen size, people viewing your web pages will typically be more influenced by what they see above the fold than by what is below the fold.

Recently, there has been doubt as to whether the term ‘above the fold,’ adopted from traditional newspapers, applies any longer, particularly since the rise of mobile devices, where screens vary so much in size and proportion. 

In our experience, it is still something that is of great influence.

And it is something that you and your web designer will have to consider carefully when optimising your website to be responsive to mobile devices.

 NNG conducted empirical research into how the fold influences users. They tracked nearly 60,000 online viewers, and found that there was significantly less engagement with items below the fold than with items above. Incredibly, the 100 pixels just above the fold were viewed 102% more than the 100 pixels just below the fold

In a similar study, but this time focusing on advertising, Google carried out a study that found advertisements just above the fold had 73% viewability, whereas ads just below the fold yielded just 44%.

So what does this mean for you and your website? What steps can you take to make it more likely that visitors to your website will ever see what’s below the fold?

Practical Guidance

The Fold is More than a Measurement:

Better to spend your time thinking about the content that appears at the top of your web page than to consider measuring exactly where the ‘fold’ should be. Give your visitors enough useful information, eye-capturing design and easy navigation at the top of your web pages, and they’ll feel happy enough to scroll down and investigate further.

‘What is visible on the page without requiring any action is what encourages us to scroll’ Amy Schade

Remember that Most Users Like the Easy Life:

Making your web page as easy to follow, engage with and navigate through is the best way to get them to stay on your website and investigate further. Without this, you may as well not have any info below the fold at all. It’s only when users can find exactly what they want and are able to recognise that your website matches the search query they entered into a search engine that they will commit to staying and taking a closer look.

So how can you make them stay?

 Clear navigation tabs / links

Recognisable calls to action that stand out

Links that work

Friendly client-focused copy

 

Good quality imagery that illustrates your products / services effectively

A clear message about who you are and what you do / what you’re offering

Navigation between top and bottom of long pages is essential: 

When visitors arrive at your website, they have a choice of how to act:

a. Continue to scroll down

b. Use navigation tools to go to another more relevant page on your website

c. Go to another site on the search engine results (ie. Your competitor) 

d. Abandon the task altogether

Putting in some simple, client-friendly navigation links at the top of your web pages can push your visitors gently yet firmly in the direction of options a or b. You certainly want at all costs to avoid the scenario of them going to another website altogether.

If you have pages that are long and have lots of content, it is useful to your visitors to have signposts at the top of the page that tell them what is coming up further down the page. It is also a great courtesy (that they’ll thank you for) to have a link ‘Back to Top’ at the bottom of a long page / article, to help visitors get straight back to the top of the page without having to scroll. This is especially important for users on mobile devices, where scrolling might be laborious.

 Encourage Scrolling

Making your web pages consistent in design and attractive both in terms of images and copy layout is a good way of attracting and retaining visitors. Use visuals and an eye-catching colour scheme to draw the eye naturally down the page, so visitors almost lose the awareness that that’s what they are doing. Make the experience compelling and natural by offering copy that addresses your customers directly (lots of ‘you’ and ‘yours’ to keep them engaged, reminding them that your products and services are designed for them).

  •  Scrolling is more likely to happen if your content has an attractive layout. Web pages that are heavy on text, have a gaudy text colour that is difficult to read (ie anything other than black or dark grey), have long solid paragraphs without much white space are generally not going to be attractive to readers. 
  • Convey the most information in the simplest possible way, without too much digression or heavy description. 
  • Use bullet points and headings to divide the text up and make it easy for visitors to scan or skim read to target the exact piece of information they are looking for
  • Use internal links to help visitors find exactly what they are looking for : if there is related information about a topic elsewhere on your website, treat your visitors to a link that opens in another tab, so that they can go and browse the additional information, then return effortlessly to their original location

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