Above the fold comes from the world of print. Newspapers, due to them being printed on large sheets of paper, were folded once they were delivered to new-stands. This meant that only the top half of the page would be visible to someone at first glance. To make it so that more people purchased the newspaper more attention-grabbing headlines were added to the top half. Obviously, websites don’t have a physical fold, the fold is considered anything that is visible immediately and doesn’t require scrolling to view. It is almost impossible to define a single point for a fold placement on a website. This is down to the location of the fold differing as visitors to the site will be accessing the website with devices that can have a vast number of combinations of screen size, resolutions and browser types.
Above and below the fold
The content that is positioned above the fold will obviously be viewed more often than the content below the fold, but that doesn't mean that all the content should be squashed in the space above the fold. Prioritising continent for example call to actions above the fold assumes the that the visitor is going to interact with the call to actions before reading further into the page. A visitor that knows the company and service is likely to react to the call to action near the top of the page. However, a visitor that doesn't know much about the company and service that is being offered might find it a bit pushy to have the call to action above the fold. To simply put it the call to action needs to be positioned where any visitor accessing the site has been persuaded to act on it. These days people that are viewing websites are likely to scroll below the fold, but only if the content that is displayed above the fold can influence them to look through the website. The content above the fold should have two main goals:
- Give the customer an idea of the websites content.
- Sets an expectation of the quality.
Does it matter?
Back to the original question, Is above the fold important anymore? Does it matter? It's important to remember that there is not a “one size fits all” answer for the question. This is due to every website and visitor having a different goal. The fold is important for the site however how it is used will be different site to site. The simple way to think about it is everything that is shown above the fold helps the visitors decide if they should continue to read through the website at all.