What makes a good, compelling above the fold design? Does your above the fold design accomplish your site goals? Before we talk about what is a good above the fold design, let’s talk about what above the fold is, why you should know about it, and why there is not a universal method for a good design.

What is Above the Fold?

You offer a solid product or service — people will see that, and they will understand why they need it in their lives. The hard part is done. Now the easy part: telling them. That is the easy part. Right? Yes and no. It’s easy to connect with your audience once you have their attention, but sadly people’s attention spans are getting smaller and smaller. This is where above the fold design comes into play.

The term “above the fold” comes from the printing and news industry. The term was coined because of the literal fold in a newspaper, and anything above that fold was the first thing a passerby would see; so it needed to be something to grab their attention and to make them pick up the newspaper.

In the digital environment, it has a similar intent but in a different delivery. People find a business through word of mouth, search engines, back links, and any number of other means of discovery. A good above the fold design will convert them from visitors to potential customers.

Think of Above the Fold Design as Your Elevator Pitch . . .

. . . but instead of 30 seconds, you have about 10 seconds. It’s now a one floor elevator ride, which makes sense because the kind of person that waits for an elevator to go up or down one floor likely doesn’t have a large attention span . . . seriously, though, what is with people who wait for an elevator for a one floor ride? We’ve all been there at some point — you’re coming down from the 8th floor, the elevator stops on floor 2, and in steps this person with their face buried in their phone. The door closes, it opens again on the first floor, you roll your eyes but they can’t see because they’re still glued to their screen, and you continue to the basement garage. A good above the fold design gets that person’s attention, and for all you know, a good design may have been the reason they never looked up from their phone!

A Good Above the Fold Design Moves the Viewer

A good above the fold design moves your audience. It moves them emotionally, but it also literally moves them through the page.

Historically, there had to be some sort of call to action in a site’s above the fold design. There needed to be something that made the audience engage in an actionable manner to ensure conversion. While that mentality has remained, the definition of “action” and what determines that action is changing.

As found by the Nielsen Norman Group, user behavior is changing. From 1997 to 2010, users spent 80% of their time above the fold meaning business needed to grab and hold their attention quickly. Since 2010, those users changed their browsing behavior. Now only 57% spend their time above the fold, and 74% of users view the first two full screens.

Why did User Behavior Change, and What Does That Mean for Above the Fold Design?

Users changed their browsing behavior because of the devices on which they are browsing. Mobile viewing and tablets created a demand for responsive sites. Responsive sites changed the definition of interaction. Whereas a user completing an action before may have meant clicking a button, now it’s just as meaningful to influence the user to scroll.

Because of this change, we believe engagement through captivation and intrigue is far more meaningful than a call to action in this new era of site browsing. Your website, more than ever, needs to have an identity that matches you, your business, and your product.

Wrap Up

Ultimately a good above the fold design varies depending on industry; there is no universal good design.

In upcoming posts, we will discuss what we feel are good above the fold designs based on a company’s industry and what it’s trying to accomplish. In the mean time, know this: your website is meant to attract and hold viewers. Put yourself in the audience’s shoes. What keeps you on a page? What makes you scroll and dig for more information? Sometimes aesthetic and delivery is just as important information.

Stay tuned. We will be providing you with UX/UI information on this in the near future.

If you’re interested in improving your site, developing a digital marketing strategy, or you just want to start a conversation, feel free to reach out here.