“The Fold” is like a unicorn. They’re both magical and don’t exist.

December 19, 2012
Elise Gould










If you’ve spent time doing digital marketing or web design you have had your client or boss tell you how your call-to-action (CTA) must NOT be below the fold because users just don’t scroll.

This is usually when I think back to that unicorn magically sprinkling dust on your landing pages making them a conversion wonderland.  I’m sorry but it’s just not true anymore.  Users do scroll.  You just have to give them a reason.

I blame Jakob Nielsen for making me have this conversation on every project I touch. 

Jakob Nielsen is a website usability forefather and often presents some compelling studies, but for some reason his website usability study from the 1990’s has become the Holy Grail on the subject.  Ok, he is not solely to blame but he did plant the seed for many poorly planned A/B tests that report record success.

Since then he has taken a new stance on the subject and I encourage anyone concerned about this issue to read Scrolling and Attention.  The gist of the article is that “Web users spend 80% of their time looking at information above the page fold. Although users do scroll, they allocate only 20% of their attention below the fold.”

Ok, I’ll buy that.

So now you’re probably thinking to yourself, that proves it.  In order to have the best chance to convert your traffic your primary CTA should be above the fold.


What he’s really saying is you must have your most engaging content above the fold.  Once you have engaged your users, they’ll scroll to read more. I promise.

As for the CTA, sure. It can be above the fold but you don’t need a massive form.  Try motivating your prospects by giving them information they need to keep reading.

How do we motivate our prospects and increase conversion?

It all comes down to asking. How much copy do you need in order to motivate them into taking action?  Here are three simple rules of thumb:

  1. Prospects who know what they want before they arrive. These prospects most likely have done their research and have made up their minds about your offering.  Your goal is to keep the momentum going.
  2. Prospects who are uncertain but just need a nudge.  These users are sometime the hardest to write for, but you need to grab them right away!  They’re looking for small amounts of clear copy that convince them to click a CTA.
  3. Prospects who are uncertain and need details.  These prospects need a little more handholding.  They might be in their research phase and are on the fence about committing.  When trying to understand their content needs consider where they learned about your offering and help them understand the complexity of what you have to offer.  This would be a clear example of when a primary CTA would fall far below the fold, and you know what? It’s okay! Don’t believe me? Try testing your CTA placement.

Thank you for scrolling.

Evidence of great content, CTA placement and pages that require scrolling:

Google Fiber
Apple iPad Mini
USA Today

Additional Resources

UX Myths #3: People do not scroll
Utilizing the Cut-off Look to Encourage Users To Scroll

1 Comment. Leave new

Dennis Dinsmore
December 19, 2012 11:44 am

Love the tie in to the unicorn! Well done!


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