Is “Above the Fold” a Myth?

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“Above the fold”, also known as “above the scroll” is a concept in website design relevant to online marketing and advertising. The ‘fold’ refers to the point at which the webpage starts scrolling – anything above this point is ‘above the fold’, and anything below this point is ‘below the fold.’

A common belief is that users generally don’t like to scroll; past studies had found that only 23% of visitors scroll on their first visit to a website, and that that number decreased with every subsequent visit, reached 16% by their second visit. Because of this, above the fold is often considered prime real estate for online marketers and advertisers, and many sites have different exact spacings and price points depending on where they believe ‘the fold’ to be.

However, with website layout and design changing constantly, does the principle of “above the fold” still hold up? Let’s take a look at a few factors.

Tech Savvy Users

An initial concern with web designers was that users would not be comfortable scrolling, or wouldn’t even know how to scroll. This was back in the 90s, when the idea of using computers and the Web for personal use was still fresh, and users were getting used to web interfaces.

This helped encourage the “above the fold” concept initially, but doesn’t exactly hold water anymore. While scrolling can still be implemented poorly, such as horizontal scrolling or infinite scrolling pages, the overall concept is not as much of a bogeyman as it may have been in the past.

Where is The Fold Exactly?

The concept of “above the fold” is actually one that originated with newspapers. The fold referred to the physical spot where a newspaper folds in half to display the top half of the front news page. The most important stories and photographs go in this spot, because readers are increasingly less likely to see a story depending on how deeply it is placed within the folds of a newspaper.

But while the fold on a newspaper is tangible and definite, it’s harder to pinpoint where exactly the fold is on a webpage. Particularly with the rise of mobile web usage, differing resolutions and screen sizes, and even the advent of apps over webpages, it can be difficult to find an “above the fold” solution that’s a one-size-fits-all for all the different ways your website can be used.

content and design

Content Impacts Design

When pondering the merits of “above the fold” or “below the fold”, it’s essential to consider the actual content on your page. While items such as website menus might be better placed where they can immediately be seen, call-to-action buttons or links to other places on your site might be better suited near the bottom of your page.

This is especially true for blog-style or article webpages, while “above the fold” style might be better suited for landing pages or your site’s product page. Content and design should work hand in hand, so keep in mind the flow of your page and where your users’ eyes will naturally fall.

So is “Above the Fold” Obsolete?

Not necessarily. Though the rule of the fold shouldn’t be followed blindly, the principles and practices it created still apply in certain instances.

While users are more comfortable with the physical concept of scrolling, they still need a mental or emotional incentive to do so. So instead of just trying to cram all of your best information at the top of the page and making your users click through multiple pages or links, try to also use your “above the fold” space to write encouraging copy or a catchy headline to encourage your visitors to stay on your site a while. Design is important for drawing user eyeballs, but content is still king.

Still have questions about web design or content writing? Contact our experts at Turn the Page Online Marketing! Give us a call at (816) 527-8371 or (844) 889-5001 or feel free to visit our office in Lee’s Summit.

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Is "Above the Fold" a Myth?

Author Molly Dillinger

Professional food consumer and amateur haiku enthusiast, Molly Dillinger is a summer intern here at Turn the Page. She is currently pursuing a Bachelor's degree in Journalism with an emphasis in Strategic Communications from the University of Missouri. Molly primarily works behind the scenes on SEO and keyword research, but occasionally pokes her head into blog writing and social media management.

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