From The Blog

Beyond “Above the Fold”: Placement of Content and Calls to Action on the Web10 min read

Nov 8, 2016

Before the internet and television news, most people got their information from newspapers, and one of the most consistent features of newspapers is to keep the most eye-catching content “above the fold” – on the top half of the front page, which potential readers can see before opening the paper. This design strategy persists in the world of digital marketing, where “above the fold” means content on a website visible to users before they scroll down.

But how important is it, really, to place your most important content and your call to action “above the fold” on your website?

Studies on how users divide their attention between above-the-fold and below-the-fold content have had mixed results, some suggesting users spend more time above the fold and others suggesting they spend more time below the fold. A study by Huge’s UX, collaborating with research teams, set out to determine how certain design elements influence users to scroll below the fold. The researchers found that almost all users scrolled down past the fold, and the majority scrolled immediately – regardless of the content above the fold and regardless of any prompts on the screen directing users to scroll down. In every group, at least 91% of users scrolled down past the fold.

Studies have also shown mixed results about conversion rates for prospective customers based on the placement of the call to action above or below the fold. Conventional wisdom says the CTA should always be above the fold, but some studies have shown significant boosts in response rates when the CTA was moved to the bottom of the page.

So, does focusing on content “above the fold” actually help? Kissmetrics blog contributor Bnonn suggests “the fold” is actually something of a red herring!

As far as response rates, the real difference lies not in whether a call to action is above or below the fold, but whether it follows the right amount of compelling information so that customers see the CTA after they’ve been convinced to take action. Simply placing a button above the fold doesn’t convince a prospective customer to click on it – she wants to know what she’s getting first! The easier it is for a user to see the value in the offer, the less text you need before the user will be willing to click on your call to action. If the value of the offer needs more explanation, give that explanation before asking a user to respond to the call to action, even if that means the call to action is pushed below the fold. There is no one-size-fits-all solution where placing your offer above the fold will automatically boost your response rates; you have to be aware of how much information visitors to your page will need in order to feel motivated to respond to your call to action.

Despite all this, we can’t ignore the fold completely. This is the place where you sink or swim, because this is where you convince your prospective customers to read past the headline. Just like in newspapers, many readers won’t get past the first fifty words, but those who do will most likely keep scrolling. Those first fifty words need to be polished, compelling, and informative, but it’s not necessarily a good idea to put the call to action button right next to them.

The takeaway: Don’t underestimate your potential customers. This is the age of the savvy, shrewd consumer who researches purchases online before making a decision, and that means scrolling past the fold as long as what’s above the fold is compelling. These consumers want to know what they’re getting and what it will cost before agreeing to anything. Be honest, give consumers the information they need up-front, and you will be rewarded with the trust and confidence that converts visitors into customers.