Weed out the top

Don’t bury your message under sharing buttons, bylines and chrome

People spend 84% more time above the fold than below it, according to Nielsen Norman Group’s analysis of 57,453 eyetracking fixations;
Google 2014 analysis of display advertising.[1]

Weed out the top

Pull those weeds When it comes to making your webpage tops, what you take off the first screen is as important as what you put in. Image by Azmi Semih OKAY

So once you’ve placed the most important elements above the fold, the next step is to weed out anything that’s pushing those key elements down the page.

Take Hubspot’s marketing blog. Above the fold, we have:

  • The HubSpot flag and menu
  • Marketing a sales tabs
  • Publication date
  • A three-line headline
  • A two-line byline, including the writer’s Twitter handle
  • Sharing buttons
  • A busy image without a caption

Don’t blow your top Get to the point faster on the first smartphone screen of your webpage, e-zine or blog post. HubSpot, left, focuses on sharing buttons and chrome; The New York Times app, right, gets to the point faster with content.

What we don’t see? A single word of the article itself.

The New York Times app, on the other hand, squeezes a three-line headline, a telling photo, a caption that adds information and four lines of the lead onto the first screen.

So what can you move from the top screen?

  • Bylines. Only the writer and the writer’s mother care who wrote the piece.
  • Publication dates. “The story date is not worth the substantial screen real estate it occupies,” writes usability expert Jakob Nielsen.
  • Categories, tags and sharing buttons. They don’t add helpful information.
  • Chrome, or buttons, navigation, menus and other design elements. “Prioritize content over chrome” on mobile, Nielsen counsels.

Because when it comes to making the webpage tops, what you take off the first screen is as important as what you put in.

Bottom line: Display more content at the top.

  • Get to the point faster

    Because web visitors spend 80% of their time above the fold

    Consider the numbers:

    • Web visitors spend 80% of the time above the fold, or on the first screen of a webpage, and just 20% below the fold.
    • Material near the top of a webpage gets 17x the attention of that near the bottom.
    • The average difference in how users treat information above vs. below the fold is 84%.

    Get to the point faster

    But where’s the fold? Content that shows up above the fold on a 30-inch monitor can take as many as five screens on a smartphone.

    Reach readers where their eyes are.

    So how can you reach your readers where their eyes are?

    At Writing for the Web and Mobile — our two-day hands-on web-writing master class on June 12-13 in Chicago — you’ll learn how to:

    • Pass the 1-2-3-4 test to put your message where web visitors' eyes are. Tip: Try this simple test on your smartphone for best results.
    • Make it a mullet — and 4 more steps for writing effective web heads. (No. 5 is the most important thing you can do to improve the ROI of your site.)
    • Optimize webpages for Google and humans with our three-part test. Note: If you're still using SEO tricks you learned in the 'oughts, Google may be penalizing your pages.
    • Don't drop the deck. Learn to make the most of the best-read element on your webpage.
    • Steal headline-writing tips from the BBC — the source of the best news heads on the web, according to Nielsen.

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[1] Amy Schade, “The Fold Manifesto: Why the Page Fold Still Matters,” Nielsen Norman Group, Feb. 1, 2015

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