Back in the day the term “above the fold” referred strictly to print newspapers. The principle behind the term was that the most compelling content of a newspaper’s front page should appear at the top to catch the attention of potential customers, because papers would be folded in half for display on news stands or in honor boxes.
A similar principle applies to websites. There are certain elements of a website that should appear at the top of a browser screen, that is, the area that a visitor can see without scrolling down on the page.
However, with the increased popularity of mobile devices, most of which have much smaller visual screens than browser displays for desktop or even laptop computers, the concept of “above the fold” must be reconsidered.
Website Logo or Heading
Your website’s logo or heading serves the equivalent function of a masthead for print newspaper or magazine. It identifies your website to visitors and is probably the first thing that stands out when a visitor first lands on your website. While you may consider avant garde designs that place your website’s logo or heading off to the side or in some other unconventional location, it really belongs front and center on your website’s home page.
Because it is such a prominent element of your website, it is well worth the expense of hiring a professional to create a logo or heading for your website if your company does not have website designers on its staff.
A short blurb or paragraph that describes the services or goods offered by your business also belongs above the fold on your company website home page. The blurb should include a welcome statement and a brief description of what your company does, as well as why your products or services stand out from those of the competition.
While the intro copy is designed to showcase the quality of goods or services offered by your company, it should not read like blatant sale copy.
Unless your business website consists of a single page, the navigation menu or panel should appear above the fold of the browser screen. Depending on the design of your company’s website, the navigation panel can appear above the top or along the left or right column of the browser page. Wherever the navigation panel is situated, page links should be clearly indicated, with labels that logically indicate the content that is contained on each page.
Overly clever navigation labels or a navigation panel that is hidden along the bottom of the page can frustrate visitors so that they click away from your website.
Once a visitor lands on your company’s web page, the visual appeal plays a large part in whether he or she lingers or clicks away immediately. Along with an well designed logo or header and thoughtful intro copy, an eye catching visual element located above the elements provide needed breaks for large blocks of copy that can appear intimidating and uninviting, no matter how well written it is.
Of course, visual elements are likely to be smaller and less dominant for websites or apps modified to fit on Smartphone screens.