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Date Posted: Oct 17 2016

Tags: SEO, Usability, Semantics

Above The Fold Content, Is it still important?

The web has come a long way in the last 5 years. New technology and best practices have had a fundamental impact on the way we view the web, and how we build our websites often adapts to accommodate the current trends.

Over the years many best practices have died out to make way for new and improved techniques.

With all the changes to the way we view the web is above the fold content still important?


The term above the fold originates from print media. It refers to the top half of the front page of a newspaper. Newspapers are often presented to their readers folded in half. The above the fold section is the first part of the newspaper to be seen by the reader. Most newspapers fill the space within the above the fold section with a headline to their top story or a visual image to catch the reader’s initial attention.

Image example of Newspaper Fold

The term, however, is not only used for print media. In web development above the fold refers to the content of a webpage the reader can see before scrolling. Content that requires scrolling or further interaction to become viewable is referred to as below the fold.


This highly discussed topic has many divided opinions. Many believe the fold is a myth, whilst others consider it as the most important section of a webpage. Not only is there a divided opinion on above the fold content, but the results from research on the topic also differ greatly leading to even further confusion.

One factor that cannot be ignored is that human behaviour is constantly changing and has transformed significantly in the past 10 years.

Humans have a considerably short attention span that seems to be getting shorter every year. Back in 2000 the average human attention span was around 12 seconds, since then it has dropped by 4 seconds. Researchers are yet to discover the exact reason why. However, studies performed by researchers at technology giant, Microsoft, have found a possible link between shorter attention spans, increased mobile phone usage and easier access to digital content.

Is 8 seconds really that short of an attention span?

Goldfish are well known for having short attention spans, with an average attention span of only 9 seconds. So, as of 2016 the average human attention span is 1 second less than that of a goldfish.

Going by these figures you have around 8 seconds to hold the attention of a user once they have landed on your webpage.

It is possible to grab the attention of a user reading below the fold. But when dealing with a potential attention span of only 8 seconds, it makes sense to grab the attention of a user before they have to interact with your webpage by scrolling.


Example of Above the Fold Example of Above the Fold

I have selected Moz and Kissmetrics as fitting examples of quality above the fold content.
Both examples have easy to read clear headings that quickly describe the service that their websites provide.
They also both provide easy to use call to action buttons, encouraging the user to interact early on.
Many users may not be ready to commit to a decision of clicking a call to action button this early on.
To accommodate for users that are not ready to commit both examples have cut off content at the bottom, this clearly indicates that there is an option to scroll and view a continuation of the content for further information. This is good practice as not all displays and browsers have visible scrollbars.


I have successfully grabbed your attention or I may have discovered a new niche market of web developing goldfish.

Image of a Webdeveloper Goldfish

There is also a good chance that you are reading this section with no appreciation of my goldfish reference; as you may not have read the previous sections of this article.
Research has shown that the majority of users do actually scroll below the fold, but this does not mean you have grabbed their full attention. Many users skim content.

Just because the above the fold content is the first content displayed to your user, this does not mean you should neglect grabbing the attention of users below the fold.


Advertisers will often pay significantly more for advertisements located above the fold.
This is because they know that their advert will be seen by 100% of ther viewers landing on your webpage, since interaction is not required to view the advert.

Is it good practice then to place advertising space above the fold?

This depends on the type of advert: if the advertiser pays per impression of their advert it is a good place to put such an advert as it is always going to be seen.
However, if an advertiser is paying you based on the advert being clicked or an action being completed on the advertisers’ website this may not be a good placement for this type of advert. Take for example this article, when you finish reading you will be at the bottom of the page. This is most likely the point where you will consider where to navigate to next. Now it seems a bit counterproductive if a click through advert is above the fold.


People currently browse the web in multiple different resolutions and display sizes. When designing your above the fold content you will need to take this in to consideration.

Example of different display sizes

The size of the above fold content is dependent on the display size.
Fortunately, modern webdesign techniques such as responsive and adaptive design provide us with multiple possible solutions to solve this problem.


As previously mentioned, advertisers will often pay more for adverts located above the fold. This is great, but Google also has an algorithm called the ‘page layout algorithm’ which penalises websites for having too many adverts above the fold. A little bit ironic considering Google’s advertising solution Adsense promotes the usage of adverts above the fold.
Therefore, moderation is required.
Users also dislike having too many adverts above the fold as it can make the content difficult to navigate; this is why Google penalises websites for doing so, as it affects user experience.


This is a good question. In the examples above we looked at two websites providing a service, but what about a blogging website?
If we take this website as an example: the article you are currently reading has a header title, a thumbnail image and, depending on your display size, a snippet preview of the content contained in the article above the fold.
Most of the traffic that comes to this website is via social media networking or word of mouth. Therefore, the attention of most of my readers has usually been grabbed before they even reach my above the fold, at the source they navigated from. Interaction has already been made based on a preview of the content by most readers.

For example:

Example of Social Media Previews

It is quite hard for blogs to have the same kind of above the fold impact as a website that provides a single service or product. You cannot just cram your whole blog post above the fold; you also do not want to create a landing page for a single blog post, especially if a user has specifically clicked on a link elsewhere to read your post. It would be unnecessary for a user to then need to interact with a landing page to proceed to the content, when they have interacted and shown interest once already.


There are many things to consider with above the fold content. There are also many examples of why above the fold content can be unnecessary. However, we cannot ignore basic human behaviour patterns when designing websites; we are after all designing websites for humans, not goldfish or any other species.

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Codin is a self taught web developer based in London, UK.
Over the years he has dedicated a lot of time to helping new developers, becoming a well known moderator at Team Treehouse