Busting Web Design Myths: Why You Should Never Put Calls to Action Below The Fold

Andrew
Whiteley
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Posted on
May 27, 2017

For a long time it has been accepted that banner ads on a website with a call to action (CTA) are the most effective way of securing a customer’s business. However, new studies suggest that in fact, people are spending more time engaging in content further down the page; explaining why scrolling website designs are becoming more and more popular.The average user will spend just 15 seconds on a website deciding whether the content is actually worth reading at all, making it absolutely crucial that your initial landing page and everything above the fold, provides content that keeps your visitors interested. Now, what is the fold I hear you enquire? Unless you’re a web designer or just incredibly clued up on online marketing, you are probably unaware of the term. The fold refers to the point at which a website is cut off by the screen. So, ‘above the fold’ would be any part of the website that is immediately visible upon loading without scrolling at all. ‘Below the fold’ is the remainder of the website that is ‘hidden’ below the fold, requiring scrolling to to see it. The term originates from the print industry, where newspapers would be folded to sit on the stands. Alluring headlines were used to make people pick the paper up and unfold it to get to the bottom of the story, however this approach doesn’t always translate when it comes to effective web design.Why placing quality content below ‘The Fold’ could be key to an effective conversion rate on your websiteContrary to popular belief, putting the main CTA in people’s faces right away may be counter productive. It’s not just about how visible it is, but how ready the user is to take the next course of action when they see it. If you manage to engage the user for longer than 15 seconds, it is said that people will scroll right past the landing page and spend their time perusing the content found below the fold. They will then make a decision on whether the content is intriguing enough to actually take action, whether that’s to buy something or enquire further. A study conducted by Tony Haile, CEO of Chartbeat; a data analytics company, has shown that 66% of attention on a normal media page is spent below the fold therefore, much of what we’ve accepted as factual just ain’t true.Placing your CTA in front of your user immediately means you’re asking for a commitment before you’ve made the value of it clear; this can be very self-defeating. The only answer you’re likely to get is no. Plus it can seem very ‘in your face’; rubbing people up the wrong way as it can mimic that of a pushy salesman; which can be considered counter-productive. So not only placing a CTA high on the page often asking for a commitment too early, it might also be stimulating a negative reaction that makes a user much less likely to convert at all. We now know that the majority of users are spending time below the fold but unfortunately there are still companies who will insist on running their ads in the places where people just aren’t spending their time.

So what digital content should be above the fold to ensure users are drawn further into the site?

Having said all of this, of course the choice of content that sits above the fold is still important. The main job of this content is to engage, set a scene and draw users further into the site. People will scroll to a CTA if you give them a good reason to do so. As mentioned earlier, it seems user’s attention span is dwindling fast so ensure you create great creative and quality content, and then get it in front of a person’s face for a long enough period for them to truly see it.So, are you ready to start thinking beyond the fold? Could be time to embrace change and pop your CTA into the logical place on your pages, adding more copy to explain your value clearly.