Layout - go with the flow

Last month I addressed one of the most important elements on a website, the text content. This month I am covering another aspect of a website, layout.

The elements of a website should be arranged logically on the page so a reader's eyes naturally flow towards the information necessary to convince them to buy what you are selling.

1. Navigation within a website should be simple and intuitive, so that users can find their way around easily. If the visitor can't find what they want in three clicks or less, most will leave your site. Most sites have navigation across the top, although sometimes a company may have too many category items to feasibly fit in a horizontal menu. In this case, another acceptable location is down the left side of the page.

One of the biggest issues with navigation is compatibility with the different devices on the market. If the visitor is using a smaller screen, such as phone or tablet, there is not as much horizontal room for the menu as there is on a computer screen. Or, if your menu relies on a mouse-over to show pop-out menus, you also need to have a swipe compatible menu system for mobile users who use their fingers, not a mouse.

2. Western websites are designed for western eyes, which read in a top-to-bottom and left-to-right order. As such, the means to contact you should be literally one of the first things people see when arriving at your site.

Many times visitors will go to a website purely to contact a company. If your contact info is in plain sight, you remove the frustration of having to search around the page, or go to a contact us page. Having prominent contact info also helps if a visitor can't quite find what they were looking for. They are more likely to call you to ask a question.

3. Just as with the contact information, if a person cannot find the product, service, or solution that they are looking for, they will do a site search to find it. If a search doesn't exist, they may leave.

The elements
of a website should
be arranged logically on
the page so a reader's eyes
naturally flow towards the information
necessary to convince them to buy
what you are selling.

4. Your content area, which contains all of the relevant information for that page, should be near the top of the page. Several websites have image slideshows at the top, as a header. If this is the case with your site, then your main content should be the very next thing under that. Furthermore, if your website is divided into blocks, the main text content for the page should be positioned in the first available left block.

If your content is positioned too far down the page, or hidden in amongst a lot of blocks, it is harder for the reader to quickly see what they need to if they are to become customers. This is also important for the search engine robots, as they scan your pages the same as a human would.

5. Repeat your contact info again at the bottom of all pages, along with a simple 'contact us' form that people can use to request information quickly.

If you have concerns with your web presence reaching your widest customer base, now is the time to look into our WebUpdate system sites. Not Open Source, they take advantage of advanced SEO, social, and responsive features to give your business the best competitive edge online.

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