Above the fold is a term used to describe the top part of a website or page that is visible without any scrolling or clicking. It is essentially the first impression a visitor will have of a website, and therefore it is vital that the content and design of the page is engaging in order to capture the attention and encourage them to explore further.
A website’s “fold” is typically associated with the device or window size used to view the page, as well as the page structure, both of which can affect what is visible on the page without the user having to take further action. For example, two people on a laptop will see the same page content but at different heights, depending on their screen resolution and whether the visitor is using an up-to-date browser.
When designing a website, the content ‘above the fold’ should directly reflect the expectations of the user and be as engaging as possible. In other words, the key elements of a website’s message, branding and call-to-action should be easily visible and accessible, in order to achieve the website’s purpose such as reaching their goals, and making the user experience a positive one.
When considering Above the Fold, the following are useful tips to create the best possible experience for users:
1. Understand user behaviour – Firstly, it is important to understand the expected behaviour of your website’s users. This should form the basis of how you design your website, and also help to ensure that the main parts of the page are as visible as possible, without the user having to scroll—such as key calls-to-action or tab navigation.
2. Use strategic visuals – Visuals play an important role when considering Above the Fold since they immediately look inviting, and have the power to capture a visitor’s attention in the time it takes to quickly glance at the page. Effective visual design should also be tailored to the target audience, such as by using colours, illustrations or motion graphics to create an attractive and engaging experience.
3. Prioritise content – As the main focus of a website should be the content, this is something that should be prioritised in the Above the Fold area. Here, visuals and calls-to-action should be blended with content to ensure maximum impact, such as by featuring a featured image above the headline or using visuals to convey a message or story instead of long blocks of text.
4. Utilise a grid system – An effective way to organise content and hierarchy on a website is to use a grid system such as Bootstrap. This is used to divide the space into equal columns, enabling different types of content to be visible and accessible on the page without having to scroll down.
5. Plan for different screen sizes – In today’s multi-device world, it is important to remember to design for different screen sizes and orientations. This is also true when considering Above the Fold, and there are various tools and resources available to help determine the ideal breakpoints for a website and to ensure the webpage looks great across mobile, tablet and desktop devices.
When it comes to Above the Fold, there are some best practices which should be implemented in order to create an effective user experience. These include:
1. Make navigation clear and easy to use – Navigation should be intuitive and self-explanatory and located at the top of the page, so that users can easily and quickly access other parts of the website. If there is more than one navigation item, they should all be visible in the fold.
2. Keep the design simple – It is important to keep the design of Above the Fold simple in order to make it clear, concise and easy to understand. This means avoiding too much text and images, as well as complex layout and animations which might confuse users.
3. Feature the most important content prominently – Once you have determined the key elements of your website, such as the call-to-action, USP or mission statement, these should take priority in Above the Fold. This content should be prominently visible, such as in the top left corner of the page, and should also capture the attention of visitors.
4. Focus on stories – Above the Fold should tell a story about the website and what it offers, so it is important to consider the type of narrative and flow of the content. For example, introducing the company, the services they offer, or why customers should choose that service.
5. Test the design regularly – Regular testing of the website is important, especially when it comes to Above the Fold, as this can help to ensure the layout works well on different devices and window sizes. Additionally, testing also helps to identify any potential issues with the content or design which can then be changed or improved accordingly.