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Web Page Layout Fundamentals

web page layout

Good web page layout is a combination of common sense and good planning. Your site should be attractive, easy to use and provide the user with the information they want.  There are three primary elements that go into making a site user-friendly: site navigation, quality of content, and element arrangement.  Entire books can be written on each of these subjects; my intent here is provide a few of the basics as a starting point.

Site Navigation

Site navigation should be simple and intuitive. Each area of your website should be reachable within three clicks from anywhere else on your site. Studies have shown if a visitor cannot access the information they want within three clicks, they will leave the site; this is called the 3-click rule. If you use anything other than simple text links, be sure to test your navigation in all the major browsers; Internet Explorer, Firefox, Netscape, Opera, and Safari.  Periodically test all site links to be certain that they still work. Nothing chases a visitor off faster than broken links. There are several free online services that will periodically check your links.

Quality of Content 

You want the visitor to see you as a knowledgeable information source and expert in your field. Poor grammar and spelling will immediately reduce your credibility. Remember that people use the internet to find information. Whether you are selling your own product or recommending someone else’s products, you must first provide valuable information to the visitor or they will click away and find a website that gives them what they what they want. As is often said, “Content is King”.  Be original; don’t use private label rights (PLR) content or rely on article spinners to churn out a cheap imitation of someone else’s content.  If you don’t have something original to add, whether it is new information or a new perspective or clarification of an issue, don’t bother posting the content. No one will read it and Google will likely mark it as duplicate content and kill the page. 

Web Page Layout

Since your visitor has come to your site for information rather than entertainment, your web page layout should focus on the content. Display the content in columns so that it can be read in its entirety  without having to jump around the page.  Using lots of empty space makes content stand out. If you use a colored background behind your text, make sure you specify your link colors so that they will be readable regardless of what browser your visitor uses.

Remember that web surfers are impatient; if your page takes longer than 10 seconds to load, your visitor may click away.  So, if you use a lot of pictures or graphics, use an editing program to minimum the file size without sacrificing visual quality.  Be sure to use the ALT tags when loading your graphics so that visitors who have their images turned off will know what the picture is supposed to be.  If you use flash movies, video clips, or audio clips, use streaming media because it reduces download time. Give your visitor the ability to stop the multimedia file if they so choose.

Originally posted 2011-03-09 10:10:00.

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