Above the fold web design
This is an important concept as it not only effects how visitors interact with your site, but ultimately how Google will rate and rank it.
Above the fold is a term used for the part of the web page that's visible without the need to scroll. Its origins come from newspapers which were often folded when on display.
Just like your business, newspapers needed to sell, and so editors made sure the juiciest stories were shown "above the fold."
Your visitors spend their time above the fold
Most websites have been built for commercial reasons and, just like newspapers, they need to sell.
In the study carried out by Nielsen, visitors spent 80.3% of their time on web pages above the fold, and 19.7% below. Nielsen doesn't say that visitors don't scroll - nearly all of the world's top 100 websites require scrolling - only that the majority of visitors' time is spent at the top of the page.
Google ranks your website for content above the fold
How you display content is not only important for your visitors, but it also has an effect on how they might find your web page in the first place.
Google incorporated its Page Layout algorithm in January 19, 2012 and explained who maybe effected by the result: "Users want to see content right away. So sites that don't have much content above the fold can be affected by this change."
OK, so it's important, but where is it?
Determining where a fold is depends on your visitors screen resolution - the size at which the browser displays the page.
Now there is a lot of conflicting information out there, and the only thing that's consistent is the trend is for increasing screen resolutions.
According to W3C Schools, everyone is on giant monitors. The best thing to do is apply it to the actual visitors to your site, which you can easily see with Google Analytics. So I know from visitors to my site that their resolutions break down as follows:
As you can see, a size of 1024 x 768 pixels is definitely the place to be as minimum to get your lead story displayed. I am not going to even consider accommodating the 1% with screen sizes less than this, if someone is on a 10 year old computer I can't see them being in the market for a decent web design.
This is where I draw the line
Given that I know the minimum screen resolution for the majority of my visitors, I can safely say that at least need to get my headline and leading sales copy to within a depth of less than 700 pixels (you need to cut a bit of slack because you never know how deep their browser bar goes).
Screen shot of my home page taken at 1024 x 768 pixels