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What is the significance of the are above the fold?

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There is a theory that states that the most important content - the one that needs to be shown - should be located above the so called fold. This is because most of the users do not scroll below the fold. There is also a theory that states that the fold is not essential, as everything below it explains the advantages of a product/service, and the information above the fold should encourage and catch the attention of the user, making him want to scroll down for more.