Above (the fold) and beyond

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What makes you read the full headline of a newspaper in the first place? Well, believe it or not, it’s actually because of a term known as above the fold. For a technique used in the early 2000s by printing industries, it’s still a common technique utilized by web designers today. But what exactly is […]

What makes you read the full headline of a newspaper in the first place? Well, believe it or not, it’s actually because of a term known as above the fold. For a technique used in the early 2000s by printing industries, it’s still a common technique utilized by web designers today.

But what exactly is above the fold? This specific phrase came from the print industry and literally meant “above the fold”. Used to generally describe the cross-section of a newspaper positioned above the fold. In most cases, this is the only visible section customers would see when newspapers were propped up on shelves. This portion was usually designed to captivate the customer by making them curious, in turn tempting them to make the purchase.

In today’s society, the internet plays a big part in everyone’s daily life, especially for people who love shopping. Why? All it takes is a few clicks and you have what you want within a few days. Naturally, a website must be visited first in order to buy something which is where the phrase above the fold comes in. When a consumer first lands on a website, they’re traditionally visited by a section of the website. The content within that section is the consumer’s first impression of that specific website. A bad impression can cause a consumer to ignore the content below the fold (content that can be seen through scrolling) and instead return to the SERPs results. According to an eye-tracking study by Jacob Nielsen in 2011, he noticed that visitors spent 80% of their time above the fold.

In order to ensure a website is successful, web designers have a few management techniques that they employ in order to guarantee a consumer will dive into the rest of the website’s content. At first glance, the initial content should give a few hints as to what’ll be offered, thus arouse interest and curiosity within the user. Clear references to what follows on the next page can also prompt users to continue scrolling. Including a table of contents could assist users in conveniently reaching their desired location at the push of a button. Content that obviously extends beyond the visible portion can also instigate users to scroll further. Of course, not everyone views a website from the same device. This means adjusting your website’s above the fold content to correlate with the device is important for it ensures the engaging content is shown.

Now, what about the website’s appearance? Generally, a website is designed to appear like a newspaper, except this, has created a templatization, whereby a vast majority of sites look the same. This has led to the implementation of different ideas, one being the removal of the fold altogether. This means there is no below the fold concept, resulting in a compact design that is more aesthetically pleasing to the eye while also allowing the content to fit within all devices. In terms of the call to action placement, it should be placed in a position where the visitor has been majorly persuaded to act upon it. Placing the call to action above the fold creates a more convenient environment for visitors who have little to learn about the products/ services. Whilst uncertain visitors are met with a complex proposition (product/services that are non-beneficial to them), a more in-depth explanation of why the CTA should be acted upon will be required.

What other techniques could there be to possibly bring in a potential consumer? Well a term called Unique Selling Proposition or USP is definitely another. Typically defined as a factor that differentiates its product from its competitors, i.e., lowest cost. Think of it as a way of showing what you have to offer and how they’ll benefit by further exploring your website. A brief and concise bit of “explainer” copy is always necessary for first-timers to quickly understand what your product does. After a user has viewed both of the above, they’re going to want to navigate around so it’s your responsibility to provide with simple and intuitive navigation. A user should be able to locate what they’re looking for with minimal effort as it crucial for encouraging visitors to browse your site in-depth.

In the end, what really matters is the thought put into this itty bitty section that is virtually the reason for a curious user to browse websites. The secret formula for what to include above the fold is pretty straightforward. Implement a little of all the essential elements stated above and you should be able to entice a substantial portion of your readers to continue exploring and perhaps even go through your sales funnel.

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