The term above the fold originated from the days of the newspaper—remember those? Newspapers are delivered folded up and the half on the front that is visible is referred to be above the fold. It’s the first thing people see when they pick up a newspaper.
It’s also put on display at newsstands where often the cover story is what converts people into buying the paper, so the front page story is always what the editor thought would catch the most attention.
In terms of our landing pages, “above the fold” refers to the area of the webpage that can be seen without scrolling. If you haven’t heard, in the age of internet ADHD and a million flashing lights pulling our internet visitor’s attention, above the fold still matters when the visitor makes a split second decision: To stay, or not to stay? Is my nanosecond of patience up, or does this interest me enough to click and find out what’s behind door #1?
Wait, but everyone has different screen sizes though, so how do you make sure it’s above the fold for everyone? You don’t. You’re simply trying to make sure what you consider above the fold is the same as the vast majority of people out there.
To help you do that, here’s a nifty Browser Size tool from Google Labs, whose data is gathered from people who visit Google (so everyone who uses the internet). Here’s a quick video on how to use this tool properly…
The most important elements that will get the visitor to click through and convert need to be above the fold. This doesn’t mean jam as much information into the fold as possible. User experience is equally important.
Make sure at least that the required, most pertinent information is there for the visitor to easily absorb and make a decision. Take a few steps back from your screen, see if the general layout of your landing page is too cluttered, and see if you can make out what your landing page conveys. If it’s not easy to make out the headline or decide where you should look first, it probably doesn’t bode well.
Here are some elements that I think are essential:
- Actionable Navigation. Is it easy for the visitor to know where he is supposed to click on one glance? If you have a simple navigation panel, is it laid out in a coherent manner and highly visible to the visitor? If you have a panel that really doesn’t add much value, take it away and stop distracting your visitor. More is not better.
- Brand/Theme. Does the content above the fold convey a theme that’s based around the brand you are trying to promote? Does it have a logo of any kind? The visitor doesn’t want to be taken by surprise and won’t go further if there’s nothing that seems trustworthy.
- Adding Social Proof. Are there elements above the fold that make your page more trustworthy? If your offer has appeared in magazines or has been talked about in television, you place their logos on your page. If your offer has a 1-800 customer service number, place it on your page to add credibility. If your offer has Twitter or a Facebook fan page, place those Follow and Like buttons and show the number of people who follow them.
- Call to Action. Does your above the fold content follow a sequence that ends in telling your visitor what to do or where to go? If your call to action is below the fold, move it up.
Conversion is the goal of the page (whether you’re getting them to fill out the offer there or clicking them through). You want to have just enough information so that people can quickly do what you want them to do. If you have extra content such as testimonials, reviews, articles, or anything else, you can set them below the fold so that the visitor has the option to read through if they so choose. All content should be driving the visitor to the same action.