web design

The importance of putting an image above the fold on your homepage

Written by Mark Steinbrueck

“Above the fold.”

The phrase began in the era of newspapers and described the upper half of the front page of the newspaper, so when the paper was folded in half, that section was “above the fold.”

Above the fold with websites is similar.  Within a website, “Above the fold” describes the part of the website (usually on the homepage) that is at the top of the page, so the visitor doesn’t need to scroll down to see that part of the content.

With smart phones, tablets, desktop computers, and notebook computers, the exact location of “the fold” will vary depending on the size and resolution of the screen being used.  However, to be safe, if you want to have something that is above the fold on the homepage, it is best to have it at the top of the page or just beneath the navigation menu (as long as you have a horizontal navigation menu).

As part of Photography Month at OurChurch.Com, we are discussing so many of the important aspects and rules of using photos in good church website design.  One of those is to have a good quality photo or video above the fold on your homepage.

If you have ever visited a website that only had text on the top part of their homepage, you would likely be turned off as soon at you hit the site.  We are a visual society and people would much rather view a video or an image to get a better understanding of your church or organization than read a long paragraph of text.

Sometimes the image may not be a single image but an image slider that has 3 images that gently rotate from one to the next.  Other times the image may have text on top of the image to reinforce or further describe the message of the image.  The image may also not be an image itself, but a video.  All of these uses of images/videos above the fold are good.  However, to make sure they truly are great, follow the five steps below to ensure they don’t turn off or frustrate your visitor:

  1. Make sure the image is clear.  There is no quicker way to give a bad impression of your church than to have blurry images, especially if they are at the top of your homepage.
  2. Make sure the images are the correct size.  Another “no-no” for images is when the image is either too large for the spot on the webpage or the image is too small and the website stretches the image or leaves blank space around where the image is supposed to be.
  3. Don’t overload your image with too much text.  Only include up to 10 words of text (or 20 if you are including a quote/testimonial).  I have seen full paragraphs on top of images because the webmaster thought all the text was very important.  If there is so much information that is important, include just a few words (maybe a title or event name) and link the image to another page with the rest of the details.
  4. If using an image slider, include 3 images in the slider.  Too many times I have visited websites where the image slider has 7, 10, or more images.  The reality is that nobody is sticking around to view all of those images, so don’t waste your time adding them.  “But they are all important” is the reasoning I hear when someone includes that many images.  However, when everything is important, nothing is important.  Find the 3 best images and stick with them.  Replace them every few weeks if you want but don’t include them all at once.
  5. If you are using a video instead of still images and the video auto-starts, DO NOT HAVE THE AUDIO AUTOMATICALLY ON!  Visitors to your website want to control when they hear audio, not when they do not hear it.

Photography is the story I fail to put into words. -Destin Sparks

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Do you have any success or failure stories about using images on your website?  Post your comments and questions below.

If you are interested in discussing a website for your church or ministry, please contact me here.

 

About the author

Mark Steinbrueck

Mark Steinbrueck is President and Co-founder of OurChurch.Com. He is a member of Generations Christian Church, a husband and father of 3. He is a huge Cardinals baseball fan and bleeds Garnet and Gold. Find on Google+.

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