Above The Fold – How It Applies To Web Design
You may have heard the phrase before, it actually started with printed newspapers and later on was applied to websites as well. With newspapers, it refers to the part of the paper that is above the halfway point of the paper where it’s folded, it’s the most prominent area and the most valuable space to occupy. When papers are folded and sitting on the newsstand, you only see above the fold, so the phrase was coined to refer to that lucrative space. With web design, it refers to the space that users can see without scrolling. Today, we’ll talk more about this space and what you should know about it in regards to your own site.
People will see things that are above the fold of your site first, so although different people will argue differently on whether or not to worry about where this area is, in general, it’s a good idea to keep important things up near the top if you want them to be seen by everyone. This is why your logo and site navigation are best placed at the top, where you know everyone will see them first. Other things like important call to action items, your phone number, or other important information could also be well-placed in this area.
Where is it?
Above the fold is actually a rather vague term as it applies to websites. With a printed newspaper, you can give an actual measurement as to where that will fall on a particular paper because the size doesn’t vary for each print of that paper. On a website, the fold line is different for every user depending on their monitor resolution, screen size and the size of their browser window. The last one can be changed by dragging the window larger or smaller at any time, so it’s really impossible to put a number on where that is for any site, it’s completely user-dependent.
The best you can do is to take into account the average internet user and your target audience. Looking at browser and display statistics from January of 2011, 85% of internet users had a monitor with a resolution of 1024 x 768 or higher. With that knowledge, and the fact that most people have their browser window open just about as tall as their screen allows for (on average) I would conclude that the majority of users can see at least 700 pixels tall. This is what Snoack Studios like to aim for with our websites, and it’s a good rule of thumb to have. Some people will see less, but the majority will see at least that much of your site.
Do take into consideration your own audience though because you may be targeting a completely different user. This is where Google Analytics comes in really handy. If you’re tracking your site, you will be able to look up the average monitor resolution for your users. If you find that your users are mostly browsing on mobile devices or small screens, you might want to adjust your thinking and your site layout to accommodate for that.
What this means for you
For the most part, I believe today’s users know that many sites continue past where their browser window ends and will scroll to see more, especially if they are interested in finding something. However, I would argue that this space could make or break whether or not they care to scroll and see more. So, I would make sure your homepage top area is descriptive and valuable for users right when they land on your site since this is their first impression. When you make a good impression, people will scroll on to see more! The best you can do is to make your site work for you, and your users. Strive for quality content and a great design and you’ll have a winning site overall.
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