Over the course of many years I have visited a number of websites (duh). Many good, many bad. Many of their layouts leave me in wonder, where as some layouts are still living in the early 2000’s. Here are 5 tips you might find useful if you are in the progress of designing, or have designed, a website layout.
1. Plan out all the pages you need
This may seem very obvious but it’s the kind of thing many people actually miss out when designing their site, because they feel it’s simple to do. Fact is, it isn’t. The best way I have found to do this is to make a simple mind map. You can do this on paper, office software such as Microsoft Word or find free browser extensions or smart phone/tablet apps. Doing this will better help you plan what links you will need, and therefore it is easier to find a rightful place for those ever important links.
2. Standard or Unique Layout
Most websites follow a very similar layout, by this we mean a top navigation bar, dynamic content (content that changes) in a left hand wider column and then a smaller column to the left containing static content (content that doesn’t change). Following this existing standard makes it very easy for people to navigate your site. If you bridge off from this and create a unique design make sure you do it right! Creating a poor but unique design could have catastrophic effects on your site. If you don’t want to risk this don’t worry, as there is nothing wrong with following a standard layout.
3. Do Your Research
“Research” does not mean copy. Take a look at other websites that are successful and work out what makes them successful. Look at bad websites and work out what makes them bad. Jot these down so when you design your website it can act as a check list. That way you know your websites layout has a good chance of being successful so long as you keep referring to that list.
4. Try Multiple Layouts
Trying multiple layouts is a must. You may design one layout that nice, but who’s to say the next one you design is going to be better? Trying multiple layouts is highly recommended. Try as many as you can, the combine the good features in each to make one *possibly* successful layout.
5. Get Feedback
Yes I saved the best to last and this point is to be considered the most important. So what if you think your website looks good, every other user might find it difficult to use. Get feedback, as much of it as you. Then act on it. Then get feedback on what you changed. Constantly get feedback and constantly make changes. This way users *possibly* will always find your website having a successful layout.
And there we go, 5 tips that should help you whether you are designing a website currently, or have designed and sites in the past. Have any other tips you would like others to know? Put them in the comment below for others to read!