Designers make specific considerations for effective visual communication. It is not only an art, but a science.
The most eye-catching story or image in a newspaper lies on the most visible part of the paper when it is folded in half and set on a newstand. The obvious goal… to pull in readers quickly and get them to buy. Today, we also call this the ‘virtual fold’.
Where is the ‘virtual fold’?
This depends on:
• how a user is browsing the web;
• the physical size of the users screen;
• the resolution the users screen is set to;
• what device the user is viewing on.
There are numerous ways to calculate the fold line. As many as the myriad of online viewing scenarios but, essentially, web design ‘above the fold’ lies where the user begins to scroll.
What lies ‘above the fold’?
Whether you are using web or print communications, virtually, the same principles apply.
The hierarchical list of what you want to communicate for your visitor begins with:
WHO are you?
• Positioning Statement
WHAT is your content/subject matter?
HOW do I move around and what information can I find?
• And now comes the all important…
Communications is about engaging customers.
How do we engage visitors so they scroll down and move about your website?
As in any design, it is important to put yourself in the shoes of your ideal customer. What are they looking for? Beyond the most important elements listed above, you can begin by making a hierarchical list of what your customer finds most important in relation to your business. List the reasons they are coming to your website. Define the questions new customers ask. Taking into consideration your specific intents will help you with your thought process, but be sure to think like your customer!
The principles of space usage, typography, and other elements of effective hierarchical communication are essential to both print and web design, but the methods of achieving these principles involve different skill sets and considerations for your viewer.