MSPs – Don’t Make Me Think!
“Above the Fold” is a concept in web design that refers to the portion of a webpage that is visible without scrolling. It’s a term borrowed from the newspaper industry, where the most important stories are placed “above the fold” of the paper to catch the reader’s attention.
I remember years ago, when I was working on outdoor markets. I talked to someone who sold newspapers for a living in the street and he told me that the newsworthiness of the story on the stand decides whether he was going to sell a lot of newspapers or not that day. That ‘newsworthiness’ is typically written on the side of the stand in one large headline. You might have seen the classic photograph of the young news-seller boy when the Titanic went down, holding a sheet of paper with the words “Titanic Disaster – Great Loss of Life” written on it, with people all around the boy reading their copies they’d just bought.
Hence, the key point to remember is that engaging headlines and striking visuals were traditionally employed to capture the attention of readers, persuading them to purchase the newspaper. As publishers transitioned to the digital realm and web design advanced in the 1990s, this terminology persisted. In the present context, “the fold” no longer signifies a physical crease in a newspaper, but rather the lower edge of a browser window, a few hundred pixels down and determined by the device and the browser you’re on at the time.
If you’ve read my quick-start-guide about writing sales copy, you’ll know that the headline alone can make up to an 80% of a difference to the conversion rate. And if you haven’t read my guide then you should – it’s free and you’ll read it in 20 minutes – just ask for a copy.
Similarly, studies have shown that 80% of time spent on a site is spent above the fold on a website. And that make sense because websites are rendered from the top down so you HAVE to start at the top don’t you? You certainly don’t start at the bottom and maybe only a fraction of your visitors actually bother to scroll down to the bottom of your website.
As an aside, heat maps can be an useful quickly to identify the average location of the “above the fold” section on your webpage. I used some software years ago called Mouseflow which could show you what your website visitors were doing in real-time on your computer. I heard that apparently there’s around an 80% correlation between where the mouse is moving and what people are looking at.
I once tracked a visitor who was going to buy something from me and she stopped halfway through entering her credit card information – although she’d already entered her contact details on the same web page. I could literally see the information as she was typing it out a hundred miles away. Just for the devilment of it, I rang her and asked why she hadn’t continued – and this was in the space of 30 seconds – and she freaked out a bit. Doing that certainly wouldn’t be allowed by GDPR or privacy rules these days and was probably against the rules even back then – but that was nearer the start of the millennium when the web was more like the Wild West!
There is some controversy here and apparently trends are changing with people’s viewing habits, with mobiles being the biggest catalyst for scrolling more. For example, some people are suggesting that keeping things above the fold is less important than before and there’s one study by ClickTale who analysed almost 100,000 pageviews and they found that 22% of visitors scrolled to the very bottom – irrespective of the length of the webpage.
But if you think about it, that means 4 out of 5 people did not scroll to the bottom – which is where far too many people put their testimonials or their contact details or the other important stuff.
For a Managed Service Provider, you’ll know that competition is very stiff, unless you can dominate a niche, which is why I keep harping on about it. Therefore, it’s more important than ever to maximise your website conversions for any potential leads you might be missing out on. I always imagine a client getting fed up with their incumbent MSP. It’s the last straw because something else has gone wrong – yet again. The boss shouts to Josh from accounts “Josh – I’m sick of this company – we need to get another IT support company – please can you organise 3 local companies to give us a quote”.
Josh will then dutifully go to Google and type into google “IT Support Huddersfield” or wherever they’re based and look at the top companies that come up – especially those that seem to have good Google reviews. He’ll then look at their websites and hurridly decide if they’re any good and then try and get their phone numbers. Now, if those contact details aren’t on the top of the page and they have to scroll down or start hunting for them on other pages – it means bad news for them and good news for others that made sure their contact details and other credibility pieces are at the top and easy to find.
And when I say credibility pieces, I mean simple, basic things like a phone number in the top right hand side. But just as importantly, people should be able to see Google reviews, testimonials, case studies, a powerful USP and of course a call to action. Far too often, I see a massive graphic which the web-designer thinks looks amazing but which takes up all the important “real-estate” above the fold and which would be space better devoted to promoting a strong offer or strong USP to make people want to get in touch. Rather than making this bite-sized marketing mouthful into a long rant about web usability, here’s a quick bite-sized action you can take.
I suggest you read a (very readable) book called “Don’t Make Me Think” … it’s the definitive classic by usability Expert Steve Krug. I read it 20 years ago and – you can read it in a couple of hours. It’ll be time well invested – both for yourself and your clients you’re speaking with because I promise you’ll never see a website in the same light again and just a few small changes can make such a big difference to your inbound leads.
In much the same way the MSPs who miss inbound calls never know what leads they’ve missed, those people who lose leads on their website because it doesn’t have simple things in place will also never know about it – which is a shame because this stuff is pretty well a free pay-rise with no downside.
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