Effective front page website design follows the function of understanding visitors and making them to act. There are truths that are understood about your audience.
- There’s a percentage of visitors who have little or no knowledge or your business. That percentage is dependent upon your brand authority online.
- Your site is competing for the attention of your visitors.
- Site visitors make an evaluation as to weather they stay or leave. Your site has seconds to convince them to stay. Below are main elements that assist in keeping them around.
- Valuable content
- Fast load time
- Professional Design
- Intuitive navigation / ease of use
- Simple and impactful message
When the internet was new, website design was like the wild west. Design styles were created with little thought as to what the users was experiencing. Design was a bit more flamboyant.
Now design follows strives to make things easy for the visitor. The site’s design steers the users in into digging deeper in to the site. Have you noticed that sites design is more conservative? There’s a reason for it.
Below summarizes why layout looks the way it does. Websites have grown up and form now follows function function.
#1 Upper Top Navigation
This location is commonly used for websites that offer access to a client area, shopping cart or membership login. If your business does not offer this kind of service this area can be omitted.
#2 Masthead: Logo (left area)
The masthead information is to reside on all pages. The right side of the Masthead contains your logo. This is the first thing the human eye sees when visiting your site and so using it to sell your brand is important. It is understood that the logo is a link to the front page. Also, make darn sure the Alt tag contains your business name. Google is listening.
- Avoid logos with excessive height. It is the goal of the developer to minimize vertical space so that more area is seen before the page must be scrolled. Wide logos are better for websites. Learn towards this aspect when designing it.
- Combining two companies by showing two logos is a very bad idea. By combining brands you are diminishing both. One website… one logo.
- Good logos have a simplicity in their design. This makes for a bold brand and a fast load time.
#3 Masthead: Contact Information (right area)
This area is best for contact information because it a visible area on your site and you don’t want to hide contact information. I’ve noticed that businesses who wish to mitigate incoming support calls like to hide their phone number from this area. This is detrimental in developing trust with your visitors. Take pride in posting phone number. Don’t hide it. Below lists common contact information posted in this area.
- Phone / Email
- Hours of Operation
- Social Icon links
- Notices, instruction, and or warnings.
#4 Primary Navigation
Most site now use horizontal layout for their primary navigation. It has become a standard. Vertical layouts are rarely used because scrolling may be necessary to view all the buttons. The following buttons will be expected by the general public so don’t omit them.
- Home (could be omitted)
- Product or Services (or both)
Why Can “Home” be Omitted?
If your business has a savvy web audience and you feel they understand the logo is the home button, then you can omit it. If on the other hand, you believe there’s a percentage that may not understand then you MUST include it. 90% of the time it should be there.
Design That Disrupts The Subconscious Mind
Most human beings meander when reading content. That’s why they call it surfing. When we surf our conscious brain is does the reading and our subconscious finds the information. Good design is made for the subconscious by following design trends that have been adopted by the general public. If you fail to follow the design rules, you force the visitor to figure out what to click. When this occurs, you break their focus. The goal is to make them act on a call to action not focus on what to click or how to click. An example of failure is when the designer explains in writing what to click or how to click. Remember, if you have to tell them what to do you have failed. Keep them reading not thinking about what to find.
No More Sub Choices – A Leap Of Faith
Sub choices for navigation are quickly becoming a thing of the past. The reason is simple. When a user mouses over a primary navigation button and sub choices are revealed, the user ends up spending time deciding what sub button to click. Superior design moves these choices to the pages seen after the click. This is one of many techniques that keeps the user focused on your content in this noisy world. Don’t forget you are in competition for your visitor’s attention.
Be As Litteral As Possible.
Naming your buttons should be literal. Business some times fall into the trap of reinventing the name of what a nav button should be. Don’t forget; your message is being broadcast to a percentage of visitors who many know nothing of your business. The message must be simple. For example, name the button “Employee Bios” not “Industry Experts.” The name of your buttons should be clear. Don’t get tricky with it.
#5 Slideshow Area
Statistically, visitors do not read this area. It’s considered to be a gigantic banner by most. I recommend the placement of a single message with a professional photo. It can be animated but must be made simple. The message must be engaging and powerful. Cycling several photos and messages is not effective. Most will skip over the messages. Very few will wait to see the slides. If you don’t catch their attention right away, they will move on.
Fast load time is crucial to keeping visitors. Using several large photos in your slideshow can add to the time need to load the site. This is another reason why the slideshow must be kept to one or two slides max.
#7 Info Squares (were the action occurs)
Your front page receives the most traffic. This is an opportunity for your business. This area is researched to entice your visitors to go deeper into the site. Ask yourself a question. What’re the most commonly asked questions about your business? After uncovering these subjects develop a small sentence that will draw the user in. For example, if you are in the automotive repair business and you get calls regularly concerning transmission help you must place a square that highlights how to get help for this type of repair. You are essentially giving information with the hope of getting the sale. You are fishing for visitors on the front page.
#8 Call to Action / Outro Text
This section is where you ask for the action. It may be to call for service or to fill out a form. It’s also a place to add more information about your company. This section is not required.
The footer is to contain information that answers the question, “What do I do next.” Duplicating the primary navigation in this area will satisfy this need. Worried that the navigation is duplicating information? Fix this by only placing links to main pages. Did you know that Google changes search results based on your location? Adding your full address, with a link to Google maps is important in the footer for this reason. Adding links to your companies affiliations and certifications will also help with validation.
Front Page Website Layout Is Fun
hope you can take some of this information and apply to your site. Also, reply below and let me know if you agree or disagree with what I’ve written. I also would enjoy your opinion on layout strategy that’s worked for you. If it makes sense, you can bet I’ll add it.
Best wishes with you project