What Should Go Above The Fold on Your Website?
As a webmaster, it is crucial that you provide the most important and valuable information to your visitors in the easiest format possible. After all, what cannot be found on your website easily can most likely be found elsewhere – and most visitors know this. Some may have already heard of the term ‘designing above the fold’ and how it means to display valuable information upfront. Much like the source from which this term emerged (newspapers), the fold is becoming less and less relevant in modern web design. If you have been pinging online updates about your site and wondering whether you need to consider this element, then continue reading for a more concise answer.
The fold has been around since the dawn of the internet and originally comes from newspaper and publications that distributed news in a traditional format. The most important information was placed on the top half front of the newspaper, or ‘above the fold’, to convey the day’s most popular and important information. In web design, the fold refers to the part of a website that you see by default on your screen when it appears. What is below your screen in this instance is known as ‘below the fold’ and is traditionally used to house content that may not be the largest drivers of traffic to your site.
As time and technology have both allowed computer users to change the way in which they use the internet, the fold is increasingly becoming irrelevant in the eyes of many. Ten years ago, over half of the internet population was surfing the web using an 800 x 600 resolution. Today, that number is so low that it doesn’t even register as a percentage; over 85% of current internet users are viewing web pages in resolutions larger than 1024 x 768. In other words, the size of the page above the fold has been consistently increasing, allowing more and more content to be seen at first glance.
In addition to the changes in traditional browsers, pinging online updates has shown that fewer and fewer people are using the traditional desktop format to view web pages than ever before in the internet’s history. With smaller resolutions on browser and tablet windows, traditional fold formats no longer apply. In addition to this, many mobile devices offer the ability to automatically re-orient web pages in either landscape or portrait mode. This creates multiple definitions of what the fold means and therefore renders it pretty invalid in these cases.
Determining whether or not to use the traditional concept of the fold in your web design will depend on a number of things. If you have large amounts of mobile traffic, then there really is no reason to adhere to such a concept. Likewise, as long as you are placing relevant information near the top of your website in an easy-to-navigate format, users are most likely going to be able to find it easily and not penalize you for it. More sophisticated technology and simple design elements have effectively made obsolete the concept of the fold.