Many marketers believe that the call-to-action, sign-up form, and other important elements of a web page should be located above the fold, or in other words, in the area of a web page that you can see without scrolling. The “above the fold” rule has become so widely accepted that most web designers blindly follow it.

The concept of “above the fold” was carried over from newspapers and direct mail design. On the web, the fold is an imaginary line between the part of a web page that you can see without scrolling and the part of a web page that you must scroll down to see. Simply put, content above the fold isview-ablewithout further action.

Do Users Scroll?

In the mid-90s, usability studies showed that web users rarely scrolled. Users looked at the visible information on a web page to determine whether they would stay or leave. Since most people never looked at content below the fold, adhering to the “above the fold” rule in web design made sense at the time. But as early as 1997, usability expertJacobNielsen retracted the guideline to avoid scrolling pages.

Web users are now accustomed to using their browsers’ scroll bars. Furthermore, blogs and social media websites like Facebook and Twitter have become wildly popular, and people are used to scrolling to get information on these types of websites. Another reason why the “above the fold” rule no longer applies is that people use a variety of devices, including smartphones and tablets, to access the web. Because there are so many different browser sizes, browser resolutions, screen resolutions, and monitor sizes and orientations, the folddoesn’treally exist anymore.

Thisdoesn’tmean you should put all of your best content below the fold it simply means that you don’t have to worry about fitting everything above the fold. Featuring less content above the fold actually encourages people to scroll down and see what is further down the page. As people scroll down, make each section enticing to build desire and lead them further down the page. Here are some other ways to encourage users to scroll:

  • Use a lot of white space above the fold to encourage exploration.
  • Avoid creating barriers that make it look like there’s no content below the fold, such as large horizontal bars that run across the bottom of the page.
  • Use visual clues that lead users’ eyes down the page.
  • Make a small amount of content from below the fold visible just above the fold to entice people to scroll.
  • Avoid using in-page scroll bars because it can confuse users, who typically look at the browser scrollbar to determine how much content is on the page.
  • Create compelling content that keeps visitors interested.

Long web pages can still be problematic because web users have limited attention spans and prefer websites that get the point across quickly. But if you have long content, you should present it on a single web page instead of splitting it across multiple pages because it’s easier for people to scroll down a page than click to another page.

What to Display Above the Fold

Although today’s web users scroll, it’s important to note that content above the fold still gets the most attention. According to an eye tracking study performed byJacobNielsen, web users spend 80% of their time looking at information above the fold and only 20% of their time looking at information below the fold. That’s why it’s crucial to display content above the fold that convinces visitors that the rest of your site is worth reading. People decide whether or not to scroll based on the quality and value of the information they find above the fold. Furthermore, the top tasks that people carry out on your site should be visible above the fold.

Generally speaking, the most important information on a web page ought to be placed above the fold, but don’t cram it all in there. Elements above the foldshouldn’tbe fighting for attention everything must be sufficiently spaced out. If you stuff too many images, headlines, buttons, etc. above the fold, it will weaken the impact of your message.

Prioritize Your Target Audience’s Needs

Prioritize the needs of your users when deciding whether to place content above or below the fold. For example, if you’re designing a landing page, you must take the time to educate prospects and clearly state the benefits of your offer above the fold. If you show people a sign-up form before they have more details about your product or service, it may make you seem pushy and garner a negative reaction because you’re asking them to trust you before you even explain the value of your offer to them.

Trying to get people to commit before they’re ready to take the plunge can affect your landing page’s conversion rate. Use as much space as you need to outline the benefits of your offer because if you do so, people will be more motivated to take action.

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