Do Not Fold!

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When designing a website, designers will discuss what information is ‘above the fold’ and ‘below the fold’.  The fold is a term coming from the newspaper industry discussing where content is relative to the fold of the paper.  On a website, above the fold is the content visible before the user scrolls the page.  So where is the best place to place the content?  This is a discussion worth engaging.

The Fold

What seems to be most curious to me about this topic is that there are very few design or user-interface professionals that recommend putting content above the fold.  I actually only found one website which to me seemed like a person that is not very up to date on user experience on websites.  Most professionals cite excellent examples of why to place information below the fold including a favorite, What Makes Them Click and the article the author sited from I Am Paddy.  One the best explanations for the history of the fold in web design was an old article from Boxes and Arrows.

So why do people still ask for lots of information above the fold?  I am not totally sure, but I can speculate that it comes from marketing and getting the product or action in front of the end user.  It could just be linked to interesting web site marketing terms that I frequently hear: ‘pop’ or ‘web2.0’ or these other words thrown around by people.  Over all, I would not be concerned about the fold.

The Sale

I use the word ‘sale’ here for any interaction with the website.  I will speculate the the fold is not nearly as important as the page content.  Let me give you several hyperbolic examples for why.  First, have you ever been to a website and see a newsletter signup box on the top?  It does seem like every site has this feature on the top!  Well, all but one that I found very quick.  Dave Ramsey has the newsletter box on the bottom…contrary to what many marketers will advise…but I would not question the size of his following!  I submit that the best place for the newsletter box is at the bottom, because the users have had a chance to scroll through your site.  So if you have the box at the top, your users have to go through it all, then if they want to hear more from you, they have to go back up to the top to sign up!  Have you ever put your email into an online form without knowing what the site is about?

Suppose that you are trying to make a sale instead of collecting newsletters.  Would you be more apt to click on the buy now button on the top of the page before you read anything about the product?  Likely, you would be interested in the product only after reading all of the information about it.  So the logical place for the sales action is at the bottom.

Both of these examples have something in common:  the content.  If your website does not have a lot of content, you will not keep your user interest, and they will leave.  Also, if there is too much content to be read quickly, or if the content is boring, people will also leave.  So what you want to focus on more than the sales material is having a website that will hold your users attention.

Tom

About Tom

Tom has been building websites and interacting online with blogs, forums, and social media since 2005. In 2010 he launched out full time in web design with the company Western Mountain Web Design. In his first year of business he completed projects in over 15 states in the US. In 2011, he launched the web hosting company Murhost and the blog Murhost Success with the goal of equipping small business owners to succeed with their online strategy.
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