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Staying Above the Fold

Aurora_Image Next time the Earth gets whacked by a big solar flare keep your fingers crossed that it is a clear night and the atmospheric conditions are ideal. Then make an effort to go outside to watch.  Yesterday I was lucky enough to witness the Aurora Borealis for the first time.  It essentially looked like an upside down water fall. Seeing pictures and video doesn't do it justice.  I could strike an analogy but that would be cliché. On to being "above the fold" ...

The term "above the fold" gets used pretty often in the web and graphic design world.  I use the term on occasion in my articles.  There are enough people who still don't understand the concept that I thought it might be beneficial to give a better description.

As I have described before, the fold is the viewable area on a web page that doesn't require you to scroll down to see additional information. The term found it's origins in the newspaper industry.  Since a newspaper is usually folded in half or creased, editors concentrate on getting the most important information on the top half of the page.  The same methodology is used with web site design.  The area above the fold should be considered your "selling section" or your most valuable web site real estate.  It's your first best chance at selling people on your product or service. 

All of your most important web site information should come above the fold.  This includes your headline, navigation, your most important text or links to articles.  Make sure your copy is compelling and draws your user into the information.  Use a bold headline!  Too many designers clutter the area with advertising pollution.

If you have an important offer or holiday special keep it above the fold.  Try not to tuck critical information below the fold.  The end result is that you will get fewer clicks on those links and offers.

Unlike a newspaper the fold on a computer screen is in constant flux.  Because of all the different monitor sizes and screen resolutions there is are no universal measurements.  Check out your web site on different monitors and resolutions to find a universal approximation you can use.

The bottom line is keep your most important information above the fold.  Maximize the use of your on screen real estate for the most impact possible.
 




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