Summary: The concept of effective layout revolves around the idea of organizing things in such a way as to encourage visitors to pay attention.
It is easy to experience information overload online and end up not paying attention to areas that seem unimportant or look like advertising. When you take the time to have a well thought-out design you can increase usability and discoverability.
Effective Layout Begins With Uncluttered Sidebars
Visitors see the sidebar throughout your entire website, it is obviously very important. One of the main problems with a lot of websites is people tend to stuff their sidebars with way too many things. Studies show that this visual clutter creates stress for website visitors.
It would be smart not make this mistake. Get rid of all distractions and non-essential items – a clean sidebar promotes clarity and trust.
Clean Sidebar Content Suggestions
Depends on the nature of your site but the idea is universal: simplify.
- Popular Posts & Articles – Study results show that this section of a sidebar can get a lot of attention and clicks by visitors. Most visitors think if it is popular, then it must be good.
- Subscription Opportunity – Most website owners want to convert visitors to followers. To do this, you need a quick and easy way to get your content in front of them regularly. An email subscription form is your best bet.
- Resource Pages – If your website has been around for a while there is a good chance you already have some resource pages. Including links to them in the sidebar is valuable to your visitors and they will follow the links.
Image placement – visitors scan websites in a very specific order:
- If there is an image they look at it.
- Read the image caption (if there is one).
- Scan the headline.
- Read the main content (if they’re still interested).
Image placement – do not break the left margin with an image.
- It is common to use left-aligned images throughout the main content with the text flowing around the images. This causes the left margin of the content to change location, disrupting the eye path and, in most cases, a visitor’s train of thought.
- Align images to the right of your content.
Image captions – visitors read them.
- Kissmetrics report image captions are read on average 300% more than the main content. (WOW!)
- If you do not use them you could miss out on a huge readership opportunity.
- Studies consistently show there is a real connection between the use of color and how a website visitor perceives the website’s personality.
- Men’s favorite colors – blue 57%, green 14%, black 9%, red 7%, orange 5%.
- Women’s favorite colors – blue 35%, purple 23%, green 14%, red 9%, black 6%.
- Colors perceived as cheap or inexpensive – orange 26%, yellow 22%, brown 13%, red 9%, grey 8%.
People come to your website for one reason – to find something. The faster they find it, the happier they are.
- Effortless navigation is an elegant way to get rid of any visitor confusion.
- Make navigation clean and simple.
Visitors scan content and your layout can take advantage of this behavior.
- Use of bullet points.
- Bold text.
- Breaking content into smaller chunks.
Shortest Path to Important Content
Important content should be easily accessible from all pages.
To give your website a clean, uncluttered, and soothing look use white space, it’s your friend.
- When white space is used as a boundary, it can actually be more effective than an actual line. As an example, visitors need to interpret what a line means which could add to confusion, friction, and visual clutter.
- A clean uncluttered website with appropriate white space = an impressive website.
Top Layout Mistakes
For effective layout here are 8 website layout mistakes to avoid.
- Making things look like advertisements.
- Hard to scan content.
- Bad navigation.
- Slow loading pages.
- A hard to find search box.
- Page clutter.
- Huge images.
- Using too many colors.
- Your layout strategy is top priority!
- De-clutter the sidebar.
- Use images strategically.
- Be aware of how color impacts perceptions.
- Keep navigation clean and simple.
- Make content easy to scan.
- Give important content easy to get to access.