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Below the Fold: Adventures in Choosing your Own Template

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Several years ago, when people were still figuring out how the Internet was going to be used with a variety of devices, the term “the Fold” was born. The fold is a term that was borrowed from print advertising to describe the portion of your Internet screen that you can read without doing any scrolling. Obviously, the fold on a large desktop replacement is going to be far bigger than one on an iPhone 6.

Part of the discussion about the fold is if it is a good idea for you to put content or designs below it. One school of thought was that you needed to put your information above the fold because of the “5 second rule” according to Web Design Tutsplus.com. This rule states that you have 5 seconds to grab a reader’s attention. If you do not grab a reader then, you lose them.

As the Internet has grown it’s become clear that people actually do scroll below the fold. In fact, cell phones and tablets require the reader to scroll. As many people move from reading the paper to taking in the news on their cell phones and tablets or other portable readers, they’ve gotten used to scrolling. The key, instead, many people say, is balancing the information that goes above the fold and below the fold.

Web design blue print

The fold is for your hook.

Getting the attention of your readers is important. It isn’t that the 5 second rule does not pertain anymore. The difference is that your reader does not have to physically flip a page. With many phones they can simply move their eyes. Other devices require the tap of a button or a flip of a finger. Scrolling is simple and that’s why people don’t mind doing it, according to UX Myths.com.

The use of the fold is to draw your readers in and get them interested. This is a good place to have graphics and an obvious catch phrase. Like the term “fold” itself, “hook” is also borrowed from print media. In writing, the “hook” is the short phrase that gains the readers attention or “hooks” them. When you draw them in, they’ll scroll regardless.

In the realm of making a sale, you use the fold to show off a main product. This is where you highlight something that you want someone to buy. New products, sales, and your Cyber Monday deals should all go on the fold. Don’t overdo it, however. The fold is a place that you can change on a regular basis, so don’t worry about cycling through deals.

Watch your ads.

Google is going to begin penalizing people who put their ads above the fold, according to Search Engine Land.com. This practice essentially papers your website with a host of ads before you get to any site content. For most people, this loses traffic to begin with. You don’t want to scare potential customers off of your Shopify account before you even get them.

What does this mean for you? Not much unless you’re cramming the area above the fold in your website full of ads. Most users do not want to waste their time sifting through piles of advertisements to buy something. Too many intrusive ads are one of the top reasons why people abandon a shopping site. In fact, it’s right up there with a poor shopping cart for loss of sales.

If you do get targeted by this new penalty, you need to change your site layout or template and wait a few weeks. Google isn’t using an appeals process. Thankfully, the webcrawlers are active and will update changes reliably.

Scrolling is normal, embrace it

Users would rather scroll or skip down a page than go to multiple pages of links when they are buying something. All like products should be easily seen on a site. Simplicity is the name of the game with websites these days. Since people are taking their news and information in digitally more often, a level of scrolling is expected. You may as well roll with what is expected. Focus more on how you’re displaying the information than where.

Give your website plenty of negative space and make sure that your template is responsive to different browsing experiences. By doing this, you will allow them to scroll freely and they will be able to easily see what you’re selling. By almost everyone’s assumption, the fold is no longer something that you need to care about. The best way to make sure that your layout is working is to test it in different environments including your phone and tablet. In the end, you should care more about how easy your site is to navigate than you do about where your information lies on the fold.

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