Below the Fold

‘Below the fold’ is everything a user sees once they start scrolling down the website page. 

‘Below the fold’ is everything a user sees once they start scrolling down the website page. 

There are a multitude of online tools you can use to figure out where the ‘fold’ is for your website. As such you can choose how you want the various sections of your pages to be laid out, how you want them to be viewed and what layout makes the most striking impact. 

Below the fold

Where does ‘’below the fold’’ come from

The notion of ‘below the fold’ goes back centuries, with its origins in the printing press. The term refers specifically to newspapers and the way they were folded and displayed to the public on the newstands. 

When newspapers were presented in this way, folded in half, only the top half of the paper was visible, meaning that everything ‘above the fold’ had to be attention grabbing. Hence the occurrence of ‘above the fold’ and ‘below the fold’ content. 

This principle of making the first thing the public see as eye catching and attention grabbing as possible is still around today and very much a key digital marketing tactic

Of course websites don’t have a fold like newspapers did (and some still do), but they do have landing pages, and the fold in this analogy is essentially the scroll bar. 

Everything the viewer sees before they have to scroll down is ‘above the fold’, approximately 600 pixels from the top of the page, and everything they view thereafter (once they’ve scrolled) is considered ‘below the fold’.

Does content ‘below the fold’ count for less?

The understanding in digital marketing is thus – placement of content on a page affects how many viewers interact with it. According to a study by the NN Group, content that was ‘above the fold’ was viewed 84% more frequently than anything ‘below the fold’. 

They concluded that by making users scroll down on your page, you were cutting your chances of them seeing your content by nearly half. 

And it’s for this reason that website designers place CTA buttons ‘above the fold’, positioning them as high up the page as possible or even being the landing page itself. Because if only 1/5th of people actually scroll down, you’re selling yourself and your website short. 

Is ‘below the fold’ still relevant in 2019?

However, saying that, according to Neil Patel, the fold is a myth, and in fact all users will scroll down if what is ‘above the fold’ piques their interest enough to keep them reading. 

In fact, Neil goes so far as to claim the fold is just a red herring and has absolutely no bearing whatsoever on conversion rates. 

What is relevant, he says, if you want to keep people on your site, is so much more than what you position above and ‘below the fold’. For Neil, putting a CTA ‘above the fold’ is considered rude, and you should expect a bounce for it, because you’re asking people to click on something before they’ve been convinced about it. A CTA should only be presented once you’ve given your audience reason to do so.

The problems with ‘below the fold’

One of the glaring problems with transferring this terminology from print to digital is that websites, unlike newspapers, have the ability to change sizes, depending on the screen on which they are being viewed. 

For example, a website viewed on a PC will look considerably different to a website viewed on a mobile phone. For starters, users view content horizontally on a PC, and vertically on a mobile screen. 

So how do you determine then what (can) go above or ‘below the fold’?

One way designers can decide how to lay out the pages of their website is by determining what medium their audience are likely to be viewing the website on. As of 2016, the most popular way to consume content was via a mobile device, which is one of the reasons that Google rates mobile optimisation so highly in their ranking considerations

However, mobile phones come in various shapes and sizes, so the idea of ‘below the fold’ is still an unpredictable concept.

How to set the fold

There are a multitude of online tools you can use to figure out where the ‘fold’ is for your website. As such you can choose how you want the various sections of your pages to be laid out, how you want them to be viewed and what layout makes the most striking impact. 

If you want to know how your website pages are used, set up a program that will monitor how users interact with your website. Google Analytics will tell you how your users are viewing your site and a heatmap program like CrazyEgg or Hotjar will show you how far down the page viewers are scrolling and what they’re clicking on. 

Only once you understand how your users are using your site, can you then determine the best content placement. 

Finally

If you’re undecided about the fold, take just one thing away from this – above or below, it doesn’t matter, just make sure what you’re giving your audience is good, quality, useful content. Don’t jam your page with important stuff at the top and dross at the bottom, make it relevant and enticing the whole way down. You can’t go wrong with that. 

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