Does Above the Fold Matter?

Chocolate chip cookie in half makes us question above the fold

Above the Fold. Better than below the fold?


For years people talked about website content being “Above the Fold”. I was one of those people who talked about it. It was a big concern when we designed websites 10 years ago.

But how important is Above the Fold today?

Above the fold is just as important as it was years ago. But the perspective has changed.

I’m not going to discuss how Above The Fold has grown on desktops and shrunk on cellphones. The arguments about pixel height can be resolved elsewhere.

The Idea Behind “Above The Fold”

The important idea behind “Above the Fold” always has been “Don’t make your Visitor work hard to get your message”. In the good-ole-days “work hard” ment making a user find the scroll button on the browser to move down on the page.

Today you can buy a computer mouse with a scroll wheel for $0.35 on Amazon. That’s not 35 DOLLARS. That’s 35 CENTS. Granted, shipping and handling is $6, but that basically means a scroll mouse can be at your doorstep in 48 hours for less than 10 dollars. Why are they so cheap? Because virtually every desktop computer you buy today has a scroll mouse.

But people aren’t buying desktop computers. They are buying phones and tablets and phone-tablet hybrids and tablet-laptop hybrids. Mostly devices with a touch screen.

Scrolling on a touch screen is easy. No searching for the “down arrow” to scroll down. Just touch and drag. Or just flick your finger down… the page moves.

So considering the idea of “Don’t make your Visitor work hard to get your message” in today’s world it would be hard to argue that scrolling down is “working hard”.

This is great because it is just one of the many User Interface improvements that have made things easier for digital content marketers.

The more website controls “get out of the way” and browsing content becomes more intuitive, the less we have to worry about people understanding how to navigate our content.

When we have users that have learned how to navigate content quickly and easily our job as digital marketers changes. It moves from “Making people work hard” to absorb our content to “Engaging them in our content”.

We used to worry if the sign at the front of our art gallery would compel a user to walk up the stairs to view the gallery.

Now we watch people fly by the “sign at the front” on hoverboards. They can as quickly be up the stairs to the gallery as they could be one block down the road. The sign at the front is even more important.

What “Above the Fold” means today

Today “Above the Fold” means we need to catch the attention of the hoverboard riders.

That means the questions we need to ask ourselves today when creating “Above the Fold” content have changed:

* Will this content compel someone to flick down and read more?
* Is the content speaking to the web site visitor? Or just talking out loud to anyone who will listen.
* Where do I want the visitor to go next? What tools am I giving them to go there?
* What activity do I want a visitor to do when visiting my site? This might be asking for more information, contacting the business, buying a product or visiting a retail location.
* How does the “Above the Fold” content help a visitor achieve these activities above?

The consumption of online content will continue to change. How our message is consumed is important, but even more important is what our message is.

Once our message is defined we can then pick the best way to target a message that matters to our visitors.

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