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Breaking News: Your Website Is Not a Newspaper!

Repeat after me.

There is no fold.  It’s okay for website visitors to scroll. 

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.

According to recent studies by the Pew Research Center, nearly two-thirds of cell phone owners now use their phone to go online, and this past holiday season saw the rate of tablet ownership rising to 42% of American adults. They see your web 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. 

Throw off those old rules and break the fold mold! It’s very freeing to 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.

Thinking about your website in this new ‘foldless’ way can take a bit of work – we’ve all gotten really used to obeying the website fold line principle in nonprofit site design. We hope the tips we’ve provided will help you start this conversation inside your organization because that next site design project probably isn’t too far away!

Leave a comment and tell us how the conversation goes!

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