It can be a very time-consuming task selecting an appropriate web design that suits your needs. I hope to lighten the load for some of you and give you an insight to which design layouts work best for certain business types and personal websites. I will take you through elements of a basic and common design layout.
Some people make the common mistake of jumping straight in and choosing colours and fonts, now I’m not saying this is a bad thing to do, however, this should be seen as a lower priority than other design elements. The main reason for this being, If you needed to change the design colours and fonts at a later stage it would be a much easier task than changing the structural layout all together. So it is a better idea to first focus on the overall layout of the design.
Choosing the designs main regions
The best thing to start off with is selecting the main regions to be used in the design. To do this imagine your design to be coloured sections or blocks (squares and rectangles) that have no content or images within. Start from the header and move down to the footer of your website. It can be helpful to sketch down these sections on paper to give you a better view of how everything is going to look at the end.
So let’s start with the header, you will need to decide whether or not you are going to have a top navigation. If you decide to have one, placing it in the top right hand side is recommended. Next would be to select an area to place a static header image or slideshow and finally where to place your company logo (the top left of your design is recommended as this is the first thing people will see when visiting your website). You can also add a second top navigation under the header image if you have a large amount of content to upload. Make sure that you do not clutter your design as this will deter users and potential clients.
Once you have your favoured header it is time to move down to the main content area of your website. This should be pretty straight forward but you may want to add a left or right navigation, once again only if you have large amounts of content. To reduce clutter you could possibly use expandable menus or drop downs on your navigation. I would not recommend this for smaller personal websites.
If you are not adding an extra navigation in your content area you could also use the space for promotional graphics. When using promotional graphics try not to make them too over the top as there is nothing worse than bright colours and big capitalised text. The best approach (if you really must add promotional graphics) is to use something fairly small and simple just enough to attract the attention of our visitor but not too much that they feel forced to click the graphic. Alternatively you could just use static images to liven up the design.