Branding 101: Why Your Site’s Masthead Matters

folded newspaperChanges to a website’s masthead resulted in a 232% increase in lead generation, according to a new case study by Visual Website Optimizer. The study reveals how OpenMile.com completely overhauled its masthead design, while barely changing their CTA, to increase lead generation. Definitely a recommended read.

Usually, when offering tips for building your brand, we stick to the written word. After all, SEO, blogging, and everything verbal is what we do best. But, some aspects of your website are simply too important not to mention…

Staying Above the Fold

Long before the internet, back when people purchased newspapers, there was a phrase the newspaper business used (and it was not a reference to impending bankruptcy): above the fold. The “above the fold” region of the paper referred to the top half of the front page – the area anyone can look at and scan without actually picking up the paper and deciding to buy it. The most important – or at least, the most “grabby” – content went above the fold in order to sell papers.

These days, the term has been commandeered by the website building industry to describe everything that’s visible when a website is first opened in a browser. (Content creators now have to think increasingly more about what’s above the fold for tablets and mobile devices.)

To learn more about what the average visitor to your site can see above the fold, open up your Google Analytics account, click over to ‘Content’ > ‘In-Page Analytics’ > ‘Browser Size’, as explained here.

Content Optimization From the Writer’s Standpoint

Since the typical web user spends 80% of their time above the fold, it’s critical that your content is optimized for maximum impact. Your landing pages should have, at a minimum, the following information above the fold (in more or less words):

  • Who you are
  • What you do
  • Links to your most engaging pages (blog, forum, social media profile, etc.)
  • Clear call(s) to action

How the Masthead Is Changing

The very notion of the masthead is changing. As web designer Salman Siddiqui writes, “Gone are the days when a rectangular header image design will be good enough.” The masthead is taking on new, more fluid shapes that are integrated with the rest of the page’s content. Check out these examples for inspiration as you build your brand:

Marchand de Trucs

Marchand 1

… and the footer…

Greensboro Tattoo

Helmy Bern

How do you consider a masthead critical to building your brand?

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Ben Richardson is a writer based in Nashville, TN. While he loves writing on a variety of subjects, he's our go-to on all things related to branding and the creative aspects of content marketing. Follow him on Twitter!

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