Web Design: What’s Unfolding Above the Fold Matters

As of May 2018, Google rolled out its “mobile first” algorithm. Website owners who were not ready for this shift in search results took a hit in visibility. While scrolling is widely used on both mobile and desktop versions of website, what is above the fold still matters in website design!

What is meant by “above the fold” in web design?

The term “above the fold” is a reference to newspapers for sale on a stand. Each paper was folded in half, making only the top half of the first page visible. This is where all of the big headlines were found to entice passers-by to buy a newspaper.

It’s the same with web pages. everything that is visible without scrolling, or panning on a mobile device, is what is known as “above the fold.” Since designers started developing web pages, they have tried to fit everything that was important in the space above the fold, fearing users would not want to scroll.

Thanks to social media, users now willingly scroll through a lot of content. At the same time, designers are getting more creative in their approach to keep readers on a page. But, that does not change the importance of what is above the fold. A call-to-action (CTA) and other contact information should be visible above the fold so that users can get in touch with a business easily.

How can Designers make the Most of that Real Estate above the Fold?

Remember the old adage, “Location, location, location?” Place what matters most above the fold. Ensure the all-important CTA, quality content and relevant images are by necessity placed above the fold (or at least near the top of the page).

Designers and developers should use a Screen Resolution Share or Screen Resolution Tester to test the visibility of those items that will convert visitors to registered guest or paying customers. Using these tools can aid a developer to set screen resolution by the operating system or to a setting that most users will employ. Since Android or iOS are the operating system most preferred for mobile devices and those are perhaps the smallest resolution screen, a developer would probably be safe with either operating system setting. Alternatively, take it one-step further and look at the display on several mobile devices.

How Relevant is the Fold Today?

According to data compiled by Click Tale in their article Unfolding the Fold detailed that more than three-quarters of all internet users scroll below the fold to some extent and nearly one-quarter scroll all the way to the bottom. Therefore, does that make everything here irrelevant? Not at all! It is still important to have that CTA above the fold. Many users today are merely scanning the page. The sooner they see that CTA and answer it, the better chance you have of making them a repeat visitor or customer.

In fact, Jakob Nielsen, in his article Scrolling and Attention points out that, “Web users spend 80% of their time looking at information above the page fold. Although users do scroll, they allocate only 20% of their attention below the fold.” In addition, he goes on to say that, “The real estate above the fold is more valuable than stuff below the fold for attracting and keeping users’ attention.”

Although, designers should use every portion of a website for quality content and images, it is a designer’s duty and responsibility to the website owner to prioritize the most important information available on the site and place it above the fold, just as Mr. Nielsen said, “If everything is equally prominent, then nothing is prominent.”

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