5 Secrets to Breaking the Fold Mold

beyond the fold

I think back with some nostalgia to the days of Flash websites (Please Wait, Loading…) and the fun task of trying to cram a bunch of content “above the fold” so no one has to scroll, ever. It’s been popular thinking in website design for a long, long time – if newspaper content above the fold is the only stuff that gets read, surely the same concept applies to websites.

In today’s world, our online lives are no longer confined to the constraints of a desktop monitor. Your site visitors see your content across hundreds of different screen sizes and lots of windows. This means not just one fold, but MANY.

Whoa.

The new truth will set you free. The fold no longer dictates what your users see – you do. Thinking about your website in this new ‘foldess’ way, or convincing your boss it’s okay for website visitors to scroll, can take a bit of work. We’ve all gotten really used to obeying the website fold line principle in nonprofit site design.

So before you gear up for that next site design project, here’s 5 secrets to break the fold mold and start thinking about your website in a whole new way:

Anticipate the Scroll

The good news is that the majority of web users now understand they must scroll to gain access to all available content. Go ahead – plan your website with the expectation that scrolling is not the dealbreaker it once was. Even your mobile site visitors have thumbs and will scroll and swipe at lightning speed.

Try a New Strategy

Experiment with placing your calls to action (sign up, sign a petition, donate) somewhere else on your homepage. This Marketing Experiments study shows that the below the fold stuff might even perform better than in standard spots!

Be Responsive

When responding to mobile demands, be responsive. Responsive websites shrink and stack your site content relative to the user’s device, giving you the flexibility to serve content in a way that is custom-fit for your users. Feel that control, people?

Prioritize your Content

It’s important to make good use of the time you have with your site visitor, providing information quickly and giving them immediate access to take action and get involved. If you only had one chance to say something, what would it be? And on the other side of the coin, if it’s worth leaving off your mobile site, does it even need to be on the site at all?

Be Visual and Interactive

Ever-shortening attention spans and busy days require quick interactions. Pew Research Center also reveals more than half of internet users post or share photos or videos online. Our society is becoming increasingly image-driven and ready to engage online – make sure your website is too.

What strategies have you tried to break the fold mold? Leave a comment and join the conversation.

Interested in learning how your CMS (content management system) plays a big part in how your homepage looks? Download our free CMS Guide for Nonprofits!

Jenny Frank

About Jenny Frank

Former Firefly Project Manager and lover of dogs, books, technology, and chai lattes. Jenny has 15 years’ experience in project management, advertising, and PR. Her past clients include a range of commercial businesses and non-profits, including Microsoft and Habitat for Humanity.

One comment

  1. I love these tips! Another one is to plan and create scroll-worthy content. If you continually provide interesting information that readers want, your job becomes easier and easier. What does your audience want, and then, how do they want to receive it?

    Think of the sites that we go to that bombard us with ads and popups across the whole page. We slog through it all because we want the prize at the end. YouTube runs preroll and mid-content ads, but we still sit through it because we want to see the video. These are massive usability hurdles that would fail every user testing scenario, but yet we see it more and more every day.

    Make your content worth the effort to your audience, and always leave them wanting to come back for more.

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