It’s a slightly dated term since the web has evolved to accommodate mobile devices. However, the term and its implications are still important for those engaged in conversion rate optimization and user experience improvement activities.
The illustration above shows how the “the fold” is defined on a laptop computer.
Why Is the Fold Important?
Generally speaking, the first things visitors see when they arrive at one of your webpages will be “above the fold.” This could be:
- Compelling headlines
- Important calls-to-action
- Hero shots
- An explainer video
The rule of thumb here is: If you want visitors to take any action as soon as they arrive on one of your webpages, make sure you get their attention “above the fold.” Again, this is just a best practice. It doesn’t guarantee the most optimal conversion rate for that page. But it’s a good place to start.
The Myth Surrounding the Fold
There are instances where the job of your webpage is to earn trust with the visitor, which requires them to read and absorb more information about your product or service.
This trust can be earned with testimonials, videos, or compelling long-form copy. It may mean they will have to scroll below the fold to be won over. In these cases, the best practice of keeping important calls-to-action above the fold breaks down.
That’s exactly the reason you should develop hypotheses and begin A/B testing important landing pages.
Is the Fold Important When It Comes to Designing for Mobile?
Certainly. Anything above the fold on a mobile device will still be the first thing a visitor sees when they arrive at a webpage. However, the general consensus is that mobile visitors are used to scrolling through webpage content, so important calls-to-action don’t necessarily need to be above the fold. That’s why I highly suggest you assume the opposite and test “above the fold” calls-to-action on your mobile webpages ;).