Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Above the Fold Website Design


The majority of online users judge a website in a matter of seconds. In order to reach your readers and get your message across, you need to capture their attention in the blink of an eye. Careful website layout that places key content above the fold is one of the most important website design techniques for achieving the best usability, establishing effective conversion techniques and increasing readership.

What is Above the Fold Design?

How can you grab reader attention before they click away to another website? You might have the best content on the Internet, but it will not do much good if potential readers never see it. In order to hook readers, establish brand recognition and inspire repeat visits, you need to take advantage of the benefits of above the fold design.

Above the fold website design places the most important information on the top half of the page. For websites, this means placing content at the top of you site so that users can find it without scrolling. By using this highly effective website design technique, you can ensure that your site provides the best usability possible.

What Should You Include Above the Fold?

1. Your business name

The first element you should include in your affiliate website design is your business name. Who are you? What kind of information or service can you provide? By featuring a logo with your business name and tagline, you can quickly and easily let readers know who you are and the service you provide. Placing this information above the fold also helps build brand recognition and customer loyalty.

2. Navigation

Effective navigation is an essential website design technique for any website. Viewers should be able to navigate to any page on your site directly from the navigational links located above the fold. Avoid graphic heavy navigation, focusing instead on text links. If you need to include a lot of links, consider using drop down menus. Remember to always include an alternative menu option or a site map to accommodate readers who cannot access JavaScript menus.

3. Bookmark link or newsletter subscription information

Always provide readers with a fast and easy way to bookmark your website or request more information. A simple ‘Bookmark This Page' link is a great way to acquire repeat visitors. You can also take advantage of social bookmarking by allowing users to quickly add your page to services such as del.icio.us.

If your website offers a newsletter or RSS feed, incorporate links to these features into your website layout. Newsletters are a great way to keep readers up-to-date about news, specials, and events. RSS feeds are also a great way to enhance search engine optimization and keep visitors informed about the latest updates to your website.

What Should You Avoid Placing Above the Fold?

While knowing what to include is important, it is also vital to understand what to avoid placing above the fold. A number of undesirable elements have been shown to decrease usability, detract from overall design quality, and discourage readers from visiting your site. You can minimize these pitfalls by avoiding some of these poor website design techniques.

1. Flash animation and banners

Flash animations and banners may look great, but they can seriously detract from your website's effectiveness and usability. No one wants to wait around for slow pages to load and readers using older technology may avoid your website altogether. Instead, focus your attention on creating a streamlined, fast-loading website that meets the needs of a wide variety of users.

2. Excessive links

While it is important to provide navigational links above the fold, excessive links can overwhelm your readers. Research on user habits has revealed that fewer choices actually lead to more link clicks. One of the most important conversion techniques you can learn is to utilize clear navigation with a minimum number of links.

The area above the fold is the most important space on your website. You can take advantage of this by focusing on effective website design techniques that provide the best usability and inspire readers to visit your site time and time again. Great affiliate website design provides clear navigation and important information above the fold, which helps increase readership, sales and website success.