Aug 19, 2010

Many times I have clients asking me that they would like their home page to be “above the fold.” This thought pattern has come from the newspaper industry where the most important headlines should be above the first half of the front page of a newspaper. However, this is not the case with websites.

Life Below 600px

Paddy Donnelly makes a very good point with his article “Life Below 600px.” He demonstrates how you can draw attention with a well designed website that doesn’t involve “squash[ing] as much content as you can above a certain number of pixels”. Whitespace is a very important element of a website. When used effectively, whitespace can make your website very eye catching, easy to read, and entice visitors to look at the rest of your site. “Imagine [if] a newspaper squashed all of its quality content on the front page. How disappointed would you be to open the paper to only find the leftovers?”

Instead, let the content throughout your website make the design, don’t just focus on the fold. Browsers have scroll bars for a reason. People have adapted to the web and understand there is more to a page than just the top half. Instead, try to tell a story as you go down the page, keep people interested and hooked in your business or idea.

Search Engine Optimization May Suffer

A lot of times I have run into projects that have Search Engine Optimization (SEO) but want to keep everything above the fold. You will hear the phrase “content is king” when you look up anything about SEO. Now try smashing all of that content into a website that doesn’t have a scroll bar. It is impossible to fit that much content into 600 pixels and still have a decent looking design. Ultimately, trying to work “above the fold” will hurt your SEO or your design.

Focus on Drawing Attention

Instead of worrying about the fold, start worrying about how to draw attention across the whole website. Focus first on the content, and then the design. It’s much easier to take out pieces of content versus having to generate some off the top of your head. Try to take the time to brainstorm ideas and organize your website in an effective way. The more time you take to get your website organized the faster and more quality you will get out of the finished product.

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