A website is a representation of your company. Because you want your company to be represented well, it is natural to get caught up in personal taste and content preferences in the web design process. Of course you want to have a website that you can be proud of, but the best website for your company may not match the design you had envisioned.
The number one focus of everything you do on your website should be based around your users and creating an environment that will be welcoming and beneficial to them. The layout, design and content on your website should reflect the needs, expectations and appeal of your target audience.
Over the next few posts, this article will touch on some layout, design and content basics for two very different types of website genres: an alternative music band website and a company that sells bedding.
Good organization of your website and quality layout of elements on a page allows for users to navigate your website with comfort and ease. Users assume elements such as navigation will be found in set areas. They expect to be able to find what they are looking for quickly without getting lost in the site.
- Your audience will most likely be on the site to listen to music and hang out.
- Because of the subject and audience, you do not have to follow many layout rules and can even create an edgier brand by slightly breaking those rules.
- It should still be easy, however, for users to find the navigation and know where they are in that navigation at all times by highlighted navigation links and page titles.
- Your page layout can be more chaotic (within the structured column layout) and exploratory because your users are not in a hurry and are willing to roll over objects to see what happens.
- The page layout should be organized cleanly in columns.
- The navigation should be easy to read and placed along the top and/or down the left column. The right column is not ideal, but still a place where users know to look for navigation.
- The user should know where they are at all times with highlighted navigation links, breadcrumb trails (great for larger ecommerce sites), and page titles.
- The ecommerce shopping cart, login and store info should be easy to find on all pages, most likely in top right corner.
- As of this posting, a common trend is for companies to put all personal company links such as about us, and store related policies and shipping information in the footer to allow for product focus up top in the most viewed area.
Next Post: Your Website Is For Your Clients: Part 2 - Design Basics