‘Above the fold’ is a myth. No really, there’s an entire web page and a bunch of data to back up such a bold statement. But we get it; you want your most valuable information to be front-and-center in case visitors don’t scroll.
Here’s the deal, unlike in the nineties when scrolling was mostly discouraged, today, everyone (even your 2-year-old) is predisposed to the habit. So much so, that one study found that at least 91% of visitors not only scrolled below the “fold,” but also almost always scrolled to the bottom of the page, regardless of visual cues. And according to MOVR, on mobile, half of the users start scrolling within 10 seconds, and 90% within 14 seconds.
The Screen Estate Debate
While there doesn’t appear to be much argument that, indeed, visitors do scroll below the “fold,” there is much debate on how long visitors engage with content above and below the “fold.”
Studies have yielded varying results on where most attention is spent. Chartbeat found that 66% of attention on a normal media page is spent below the fold. Conversely, the Nielsen Norman Group showed that users spend 80% of their time looking above the fold.
Even if we can’t agree on how much attention is spent above or below the “fold,” it’s still important to include attention-grabbing content at the forefront of your homepage. After all, your visitors will make their decision to continue scrolling based on the content at the top of your page.
(Web) Design With a Purpose
Marketers and designers should design their websites with intention and purpose. Below are some design principles that can be applied to keep visitors scrolling.
- Use relevant content: Your website is competing for your visitor’s attention, and your visitors won’t stay long if they can’t easily access the content they’re looking for. Keep your content relevant and straight to the point.
- Break up your content: Instead of squeezing anything and everything above the “fold,” utilize the scroll to separate content to keep visitors engaged and interested. Humans by nature are scanners, and we tend to scan a new web page picking out individual words or sentences. It’s crucial that designers and marketers break up content utilizing eye-catching sub-heads, visuals, keywords, or lists.
- Avoid false bottom: False bottom occurs when your web design misleads visitors into believing there is no additional content below. To avoid this, arrange your content so that your additional content, such as a grid or sub-head, is placed just slightly above the fold. You can also create visual cues, such as an arrow, that prompts the visitor to scroll.