Above The Fold: What Goes Where & Why It Matters
Does it really matter where your content goes on your website?
You bet it does!
Where your content appears on your website (for example, your home page) is critical to how well it is received by potential customers. There are some items that simply have to appear near the top of your website because they are important and need to be seen. You might be surprised to learn this, but there is a term for this sort of priority that has bled over from the print world: Above the Fold.
What is “The Fold” and why should I care what goes above it?
Simply put, something that is “Above the Fold” is something that appears in the first 600 pixels of a website (measured from the top of the user’s screen) and anything below 600 pixels is considered to be “Below the Fold.”
A hold-over from the print world, the concept of the fold originated in newspapers and often referred to the positioning of headlines and other important information; in order to really get noticed, important pictures and headlines needed to appear above the fold so that readers would see them immediately after picking up the newspaper.
This concept has been adapted to web design by taking the size of the average computer screen (600 pixels tall and 800 pixels wide) and using it to establish a similar rule for web pages. The theory then evolved that if you wanted something to get noticed it needed to go above the fold, which is true, but only to a certain point.
You have to have visual priorities
Because the idea that all important information needed to appear above the fold, advertising soon took centre stage, often crowding out even the most basic elements like a business’ logo and contact information; essentially the information that visitors needed to see was lost in a sea of advertisements, never to be seen again!
Google took a dim view to this kind of advertising placement and made a point to penalise sites who had a high density of ads above the fold, bringing the term back into the spotlight once again. “What is this ‘fold’ and where do I find it?” was a popular question that swept web designers and SEO communities all over the internet in late January of this year. Google’s Matt Cutts made an effort to explain exactly what the search engine giant was looking for when it analysed a website:
“Cutts actually took two yellow stickies and put them on the top of a standard 8.5 x 11 sheet of paper and indicated that even if this space was just one big ad it is too much and could be impacted by Google’s new algorithm change.”
While it’s never a lot of fun to be told what you can and cannot do in terms of the design of your website, you have to agree that at a certain point you aren’t doing your business or your customers any favours by making them scroll down past a bunch of advertisements to get to the content that they came to your site to see in the first place.
So in an effort to cater more to your business and the needs of your customers and other visitors to your website there are a few things that absolutely need to be above the fold if at all possible:
- Your logo
- Your business name
- The title of the content or an indicator of what content is on the page
- A way for someone to contact you
These are important because they are a part of your brand and speak to how you are going to treat the needs of your customers. Yes, ads will make you money, but at what cost to the business you might have done had X number of potential customers not left your site because of all of the ads right at the top of your page? “At the top” doesn’t always mean a horizontal banner ad either; sidebars (sometimes on both sides of a page) are often stuffed full of ads, leaving the actual content sandwiched in between them.
All of this is a guideline, and by no means a hard-and-fast rule!
In the end you are the one who decides how your business’ website should be designed and what elements will go where on the page. Of course it is wise to pay attention to the decisions at Google if you would like to rank well in their search results!
How do advertisements figure in your website’s design? Do you have large ones, small ones, etc and where are they located?
We’d love to hear more about what made the cut and appears “Above the Fold” on your websites!