It’s the kickoff meeting of a website redesign project. The Insivia team is sitting down with our client, ready to discuss the creative and business objectives of the website.

Almost invariably, the design need is voiced: “And we need the content above the fold. No scrolling.”

The client is voicing an important concern from design and business perspectives. At Insivia, we converse with clients and provide resources about usability, web trends, and the fold. However, we also treat the fold concern as an opportunity to discover some additional design needs. Usually, the needs fall into a two categories:

1. We need to make sure people see the most important information.
We do, too! Of course, this raises the question: What is the most important information? Here are some ways to help answer that question:

  • Interviews and surveys with your target audience.
  • Analytics tools.
  • Competitive analysis.
  • Mental mapping with your team (Sometimes you may find that different stakeholders have different opinions.).

When reviewing your research, you may be surprised by the answers of what’s important to the people who matter most—your target audience.

Next question: What’s the best way to make sure your audience sees the most important information? Maybe it’s not always text, and it’s certainly not going to be just paragraphs of content. Think about different media for your content: text, interactive and static diagrams, images, videos, etc. Think about style and length to keep people informed and engaged.

One more thought: remember that the whitespace is not always wasted space. It really helps users retain information and read. Just like an uncluttered desk, it makes focusing easier and accentuates the most important items. It’s creating balance and making what’s important stand out even more.

2. People won’t know to scroll.
Ah. Well, chances are that they will. Andy has a great post about encouraging visitors to scroll through design techniques. More importantly, studies show users are accustomed to scrolling, and it’s very common these days on sites that your users are bound to use: search engines, news sites, and webmail are just a few that your users likely visit daily.

So, when thinking about the fold, take a step back from the layout concern, and start thinking about your content and your users. When people get to your site, immediately they should be able to see and read who you are, what you do, and what sets you apart. That’s the information they need to see, and that’s the information that will help them decide you’re the right group for them.