Does Above-the-Fold still matter in Web Design?

Before the internet was accessible in most households, people got their news from printed papers. Most newspapers folded their publications in half, and publishers referred to the area at the top of the page as “above the fold.” In web design, the phrase refers to the area at the top of the page before the user scrolls down. 

The goal for the area is to grab the user’s attention before they find something else of interest. What you place above the fold can lower bounce rates and improve conversions. 

Table of Contents

Why Is Above-the-Fold Content Still Important?

Many designers argue that all the content on a page is critical to an excellent user experience (UX). While that is true, first impressions still matter. Researchers propose in a 2021 study that time spent above the fold is a key performance indicator for websites. Improving the above-the-fold KPI improves conversions. 

While ATF now varies thanks to more people accessing the internet via smaller screens, the first thing visitors see still makes a strong impression on how they view your website and whether they are likely to stay or bounce away. 

What Should You Place at the Top of a Website?

Since the ATF area is still crucial to UX, what should you put at the top of your site to draw people in and keep them on the page? It depends on the type of site you run. Informational websites may want users to click a “read more” call-to-action (CTA) button. An e-commerce store might highlight new products and sales with an easy “shop now” CTA. 

Consider these elements for above the fold:

Tagline

Let visitors know what your site is the minute they land there. While savvy marketing should drive your target audience to your page, some people want something different than what you offer.

For example, say someone searches for “bats.” They intend to learn more about the animal to build a bat house. However, you sell baseball bats on your website. The person is not your customer base, so putting a statement about what you offer at the top of the page saves them time and opens up your bandwidth for people most likely to buy from you. 

Logo

Your logo should appear at the top of each page on your website. It shows your brand personality and helps familiarize readers with your image. Pay attention to the small details that might irritate your users, such as the logo not linking back to the homepage.

Poor UX can deter visitors from returning to your site, as around 88% of visitors are unlikely to return after a poor experience. Simple fixes like linking your logo to your homepage make the entire user experience smoother, thus allowing a better chance of satisfied users and repeated visits.

Contact Information

Include a link to a contact page or a phone number at the top of your pages. Many of your site visitors may not have heard of your company before, so they have no reason to trust you or believe you will fill their orders correctly. 

Contact details are a trust factor. Customers can call to ask questions and reach out if something goes wrong with their order. 

Navigation

Users expect navigation to appear above the fold. Limit the number of categories and use subcategories for more expansive sites. Around 94% of people want easy navigation on websites. 

You can also use navigation to move the buyer through the sales funnel. Depending on the language, the reader probably looks at your menu from left to right. Consider which areas are most important and place them farthest to the left. 

Highlights

How do you fill the rest of the space above the fold? Include things you’d like to highlight. Images of new products, videos showcasing what you do or exciting news about your brand are all excellent options.

Most website owners change the images and details occasionally. You can use the area under the header to keep your site current. 

Should You Put a CTA Above the Fold?

Yes and no. CTAs work well above the fold for uncomplicated topics. Clothing retailers, for example, can hop right into the “shop now” CTA. However, if you cover complex topics or high-ticket items, you may need to move your CTA down the page. People want to know more before they spend money. 

Run Split Tests

Your website is unique, and so are your visitors. Finding the right mix of elements to place above the fold takes time. Try different tactics, run A/B tests and see how your customers respond. The area at the top of your page still makes an impression. Take the time to perfect it and you should see an increase in conversions and longer page views. 

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Article written by Eleanor
Article written by Eleanor

Eleanor Hecks is the managing editor at Designerly. Connect with her about digital marketing, UX and/or tea on LinkedIn.

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