I’ll admit that I have been advising clients for a few years now that in these days of drastically varying screen sizes the concept of “above the fold” really isn’t valid. New research from Nielsen Norman Group that shows an 84 percent average difference in how users treat info above vs. below the fold is causing me to reevaluate that advice.
“Above the fold” is a term borrowed from newspaper terminology and used as a way to reference what is visible on a webpage without scrolling. Even though the exact location of the “fold” will differ between devices, the NNG research shows that it exists for every single user on every single screen.
What appears at the top of your page matters. Users do scroll, but only if what they see first resonates with their needs enough to make them want to look for more.
What is visible on the page without requiring any action is what encourages us to scroll. – Nielsen Norman Group
So the research suggests an important communication strategy. It’s not that you can’t have information that extends below the first screen of information; it’s that the first screen must be compelling enough to get the user to scroll down.
This make sense. Do you ever go to a page, see useless and irrelevant content, and scroll out of the blind hope that something useful may be out of sight?