Why “Above the Fold” Is No Longer Relevant

From time to time, you might hear your B2B colleagues talking about their website content being “above the fold”. But what does that even mean? Here’s what it means and here’s why it does not matter anymore.

“Above the fold” is a relic from the print era.

The term “above the fold” comes from the old days of print newspapers (although they technically still exist, but who really reads those?). “Above the fold” referenced that content that could be seen even when the newspaper was folded and ready for delivery. Or in other words, the content that could catch someone’s eye even before they’d bought the newspaper. The space above the fold was generally the most expensive and desirable space.

ClotheslineWhen people started making the switch to the internet, the term “above the fold” followed. Web designers and content marketers strove to ensure that their most valuable content was “above the fold”, or in other words, above a fixed line that could generally be seen without scrolling.

Since the advent of the internet age, numerous alpha and beta tests have been done to determine whether including the most important content above the fold is imperative. The outcomes have shown that most users do scroll down to see what’s below that “fold”. It should also be noted that this is probably even more relevant today because scrolling has become so user-friendly and can be done with the flick of a finger.

Responsive design is a game changer

The term “responsive design” refers to website formatting that configures itself in such a way that the content fits the size of screen on which it’s being viewed and the need for scrolling and/or zooming in is minimized. For instance, if you have a site that has content that fills the entire screen of a desktop, the responsive design will shrink that content and make it fit on the screen when someone is using a smart phone (or any other device for that matter) to view the site.

It should be noted, however, that oftentimes responsive design will use what is known as the hamburger icon to alert viewers of a menu. Unfortunately, many users are not yet familiar with this icon, so it’s an area in which a responsive design could potentially hurt you. In reality though, it’s likely just a short-term issue as more and more sites turn responsive and we accelerate our adoption of responsive design.

Who uses a desktop anymore?

Sure, lots of people still use desktop computers for work, but beyond that, does anyone really use them? Let’s be honest, if someone is casually surfing the internet at home, it’s much more likely that they’re using a smartphone, a tablet, or a laptop to do so – not a desktop. This makes the term “above the fold” that much more irrelevant to today’s internet age.

How can you possibly compare what’s above the fold for Apple’s iPad versus HP’s tablet? Or Samsung’s Galaxy S5 phone versus Apple’s iPhone? Or even an 11.3” laptop versus a 17” one? This is why you shouldn’t focus on having content above the fold anymore.

Rather than focusing on the term “above the fold”, focus on creating good quality content that your audience can relate to. Work on putting your most important content in highly visible places on your website and ensure that your site is designed with easy navigation in a way such that you guide the reader.

And for the term “above the fold”, you might want to limit its use to potential answers for game shows like Jeopardy.

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