How many of you knew that the idea behind designing a website with the most important content appearing ‘above the fold’ actually originated from selling newspapers? The reason was, when customers saw that day’s newspaper – they would only see the top half of the newspaper as it was folded in half, so the featured/leading story for the day always had a large attention-grabbing headline and a large photo to entice customers to buy a copy.
Five years ago – this was considered best practice for designing a website. But with today’s variety of different sized devices to look at websites on, technically there is no fold – websites are now designed to allow web visitors to scroll continuously through a website’s content. By having a mobile responsive designed website, your site may be viewed on a variety of different devices of all shapes and sizes. This also means you no-longer have the guarantee that your website visitors are looking at your website through a large 14-inch desktop monitor or a small laptop – iPads and iPhones/Smart Phones have all become popular devices to access and scan through websites. There are now a variety of options for how website visitors are able to interact with your website.
Moving your website design from an above the fold design to continuous scrolling
Just as it no longer acceptable to use clip art or have a trail of animated ants crawling across the top of a web page, above the fold designed websites have had their day. The concept for designing websites that needs to have the most important content appear above the fold, should not be an issue or be an important design consideration. If you still believe it necessary to have an above the fold web page design, here’s a few reasons which may cause you to re-think its relevance.
- Many people who own either an iPad or iPhone/smart phone expect to scroll when viewing a website on either of these devices. They intuitively know that by using their finger on their screen they can scroll and navigate through a website.
- If your website conveys a coherent narrative, it is virtually impossible to tell the whole story in half a screen length scroll through. You want your website to behave just like a hard copy book – as your visitors read through your content on each web page, they can flick/click through and digest the information without needing to have to read systematically through every page on your website.
- As there is no standard size across devices, your website needs to be designed flexibly, so your content can still be read without impeding your web visitors progress accessing your website.
- Your websites’ design is only half of the equation, your content completes the other half – both aspects of your website need to be equally strong. Your website should be created from your web visitor’s perspective. Think about how they navigate on different devices, the language that would appeal to them, the images that they like. Use this information to guide you in the decisions you make.
Focus your web design on your web visitor’s needs
You must stay focused on the importance of resolving the problem/reason your website visitors have come to your website to solve. Provide quality content that they expect to read. Regardless of whether you are selling a product or service through your website, your primary goal is to convert your visitors into taking a specific action. Writing high quality content has less to do with the placement and location on the page, but more in your ability to get customers to connect with you, resonate with your message, and solve their problem/s.
Don’t make your content an obstacle to digest, or your website inaccessible due to the device your visitor has decided to look at your website on. Instead make it easy to scroll, easy to read, and easy to use. Test your website on different devices for yourself and see how intuitive it is. Try not to get stuck with the placement of content appearing above the fold, but instead focus on building a website that connects and engages your customers.