In today’s age you need to catch the eye of your customer before they get a chance to scroll down.
Back in the pre-digital days, there was no greater achievement for a print journalist than to see their story appear “above the fold” on the front page of a newspaper. This indicated that their story was the most important news of the day, and had worth and value that warranted it begin given prime newsprint real estate. It ensured that anyone who picked up or glanced at the newspaper on that given day would see their story first.
These days, although pixels are in far greater supply than newsprint, the phrase “above the fold” still has a similar meaning when it comes to getting your website visitors’ attention. Though it would be more accurately described as “above the scroll”—that is, what’s visible to the eye before you scroll down the page—the implications are much the same for this piece of digital real estate. Whether your goal is sales or simply to get eyeballs on your published content, above the fold content is key if you’re looking for a high conversion rate. In fact, if you’re looking to maximise the effect your website has on visitors, your above-the-fold web design is a primary factor you need to take into consideration.
So what, exactly, does this mean? Many believe that when a website visitor lands on a landing page for the first time, their level of attention is acute and focused on what they’re looking at. In reality, however, the opposite is true. First impressions are made virtually within seconds of a website visitor’s eyeballs landing on your page. They are not spending the time to evaluate carefully if this is where they want to be—they’re either staying or bouncing on an instinctual basis. Assuming that your visitor is really motivated to be on your site is where many people go wrong.
This can seem quite arbitrary and cutthroat—and that’s because it is! The internet is essentially a massive attention-seeking contest with a target audience of people whose attention spans are becoming increasingly shorter. But the good news is in the quest for conversion, there are steps you can definitely take to improve your above-the-fold web design and convert more visitors.
Pass the blink test: Stand up and move two paces away from your computer screen. Can you still see what the landing page is about or what the top piece of featured content is? If not, your above-the-fold content might be too understated.
Don’t make them scroll or navigate: The call to action or main goal of the page should be apparent to the visitor right away. Don’t make them work to figure out what you want them to do. Make it clear and immediate in your above-the-fold layout.
Make sure your headline matches your social copy: If you have promoted your page on a social network as a means to get visitors onto your landing page, make sure it lives up to its promise right away. If the headline copy on the landing page doesn’t appear to immediately follow on from or correspond to what you promoted on social, your bounce rate will skyrocket as you’ll be viewed as disingenuous right away.
Tailor to devices: If your above-the-fold content looks great on mobile but is lacklustre on desktop, you’re not doing yourself any favours. It’s true that as screen sizes vary, there is a wide variance in what constitutes “above the fold”, but that’s no excuse to fall short. Make sure that no matter where someone finds you—mobile, tablet, or desktop—your above-the-fold web design is tailored with maximum conversion in line.
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