Is It Time to Put “Above the Fold” on Hold?

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In unconventional times, conventional thinking may hold your business back. A perfect example is what’s known as “ the fold,” a design philosophy that stipulates the CTA (and other important content) should be squeezed into the precious real estate at the very top of your website. There’s a lot of evidence that a slavish devotion to this idea may actually dampen your conversion rate.
 
From Daily News to Digital
 
The fold concept, of course, takes it name from the supposedly eye-catching territory above the crease of a newspaper. News executives and marketers, understandably, reasoned that readers would gravitate to catchy headlines and captivating photos, but interest would drop off the further south they traveled. 
 
Statistics, such as Nielsen's findings that only 20 percent of audiences read below the fold, helped to perpetuate the mystique of the fold. Naturally, the idea migrated to digital as Internet sites developed flashy banners featuring prominent CTA very high up on the page.
 
Scrolling Changes the Rules of the Game?
 
There’s a lot of recent evidence, however, that the fold concept may be outliving its usefulness. For instance:
 
  • According to a Ubounce study, CTAs near the bottom of the page often outperformed (by as much as 20 percent) their above the fold counterparts.
  • Research by Marketing Experiments found that CTA location had little bearing on conversion rates.
  • Similarly, Kissmetrics reported that “Higher conversion rates have nothing to do with whether the [CTA] button is above the fold, and everything to do with whether the button is below the right amount of good copy.
 
There are a variety of reasons why the conventional wisdom about the fold may be outdated. To begin with, scrolling (particularly via mobile) is a game changer. If you capture people's interest--and give them good reasons to keep reading--they will scroll down.
 
According to a ClickTale Scrolling Report, 76 percent of mobile users used the scroll bar feature and 22 percent scrolled down to the bottom of the page. Indeed, the habit is becoming so ingrained that half of mobile users start scrolling within 10 seconds and 90 percent scroll within 14 seconds. 
 
Takeaway
 
The real estate above the fold is not irrelevant. Simplicity of design and relevant and meaningful content are what draw users further down the page. In other words, it’s important to get reader’s attention and a give them a reason to keep reading.
 
A growing consensus suggests that CTA’s are most effective when paired in proximity to highly motivating content. With that in mind, the layout of your website need not be constrained by staid conventions like the fold. 
 
Sameness can be a recipe for irrelevance. So, don’t be afraid to experiment a little by using space and elegance in your layout design. After all, sites that allow users to scroll through beautifully arranged and well-spaced content are proving to be quite effective with modern users. 
 
In today’s environment, a CTA above the fold can sometimes appear too bold and pushy. Better to entice readers by boldly deviating from what everyone else is doing.
 
If you need any assistance or would like more information, please contact Guidance.
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