In this contemporary era, many if not most businesses have realized how important the creation and maintenance of an aesthetically appealing and functional website is. At this historical moment, internet use is growing faster than ever and many people have begun making purchases based off information they see about goods and products via business websites. In recognizing the integral role that great websites can play in helping them increase conversion rates, many businesses have bought into a web design ideology commonly referred to as the “above the fold” principle. According to this principle, the individuals who browse websites in search of information or products only read above the fold-the area of the website that can be seen without scrolling down. Based on this principle, many business owners have strategically placed certain pieces of information in this area in order to keep their websites highly functional and thereby effective in increasing conversion rates. Despite the prevalence of the above the fold principle, however, much research now indicates that the principle is not entirely true. Since this is the case, business owners who want to make their websites as effective as possible should rethink the above the fold principle and consider altering web designs based on this principle.
Business owners and marketing strategists who have familiarized themselves with the above the fold principle have good reason to think that it is valid. Indeed, the principle seems intuitively correct when one considers the widespread view that online readers don’t take the time to read content and are interested in accessing information quickly and in an uncomplicated way. To facilitate this process, many business owners have created tabs and other forms of website designs that enable them to put their most important information above the fold. These efforts may be at least somewhat ineffective, however. According to research findings from Certified Knowledge, the above the fold principle may be true in many cases, but not in all. In reporting on the subject, a writer recounted the fact that one company experienced higher conversion rates when they placed their call to action data below the fold.
The research findings reported by Certified Knowledge are not anomalistic. In his discussion of the above the fold myth, Daniel Burstein notes that individuals who put their call to action below the fold had experienced a 20% increase in conversion. In explaining how this could be the case, many marketing experts emphasized the fact that the key to catching and keeping the customer’s attention isn’t necessarily about placing incentives to make purchases at the top of the website. Instead, the key is to motivate the customer to buy. According to these marketing experts, garnering this motivation is contingent upon the careful cultivation of interesting, informative content. In many cases, website designers and/or business owners opt to put “the ask” for prospective clients at the top of the page without giving them the data necessary to make an informed decision about the goods and services they may purchase. In short, placing the ask above the fold can often amount to attempting to entice customer action before the customer even fully understands what you’re asking.
In recognizing forthcoming data regarding the above the fold principle, business owners and web designers should recognize that this principle is not necessarily the key to increasing conversion rates. For while using the above the fold method has proven efficacious in some cases, it is not a fool-proof principle which will ensure that customers are motivated to make purchases. Instead of concentrating on whether the call to action is above the fold or below the fold, individuals who want to increase their conversion rates should place more primacy upon the creation of clear, informative content that builds the customer’s interest in a product and thereby motivates them to buy. According to many marketers, it is this concept-not the above the fold principle-that will be most effective in increasing conversion rates.