A visitor arrives at your ADR website. The first screen loads. That screen, the first they see without scrolling down, has the same real estate value that “above the fold” has for newspapers. High value.
Because what they see immediately can keep them on your site a bit longer, giving you time to interest them more in what you have to offer. Or it can cause them to move on.
The Blog Herald’s Chris Garrett reminds us that your website’s top-screen real estate should answer four key questions immediately. While Chris was commenting specifically about blogs, the advice is generalizable to “static” (traditional, regular) as well as blog-based websites. In 10 Minute Blog Tips: Making a Good First Impression he lists the four key questions:
- Where am I? – Does your visitor have a clear idea where they have arrived? The first thing they should notice is your blog name. What does this tell them? Does it say “My Stuff” or does it say “Wallys Wonderful World of Widgets – tips and news from the widget world”. They need to know what site they have landed on and why they should care.
- Who are you? – You will find it easier to make a connection with your readers if you show them who you are. Put a picture in your sidebar, write an about blurb, sprinkle personal details in your posts. Read this from The Godin on name tags.
- What is here? – The visitor is there, now you need to feed them before they wander away. First of course should be the content they came for. Are your headlines and first paragraphs in view above the fold or have you pushed all your content down the page with superfluous navigation and advertising? Does the headline and intro pull the visitor into becoming a reader?
- Where now? – You have managed to get them to read your article, can you get them to stay? Help them with useful links and buttons. What good articles should they read next, where do they sign up for your newsletter or RSS subscription. They are not going to go searching, you need to put this stuff right where they can find it.
For a bit more on the kinds of information useful for your most important screen real estate, check out my past article, Above the Fold: Put Your Most Important Website Content at Top.