Website Design: Choosing A Layout

There are many different website layouts to choose from and deciding on a particular layout is one of the first steps when designing your website. However, no matter what layout you decide on, your website should always be as simple as possible and easy to navigate.

The most appropriate layout for your website will depend upon the complexity of your site. Look at various sites on the Internet that offer products similar to your product to help you decide on the most desirable layout for your website.

The simplest layout consists of a single column containing content with or without additional tables for a header and a footer. Basically, this type of layout is used for a single page sales letter. The header will include your logo and your header graphics, the content will consist of your copy and links to your business notices. The footer will contain your copyright and possibly your website’s name. The only links will be to your payment processor and legal notices pages. This layout will work for any single product sales when your site requires no navigation or links to other content.

The second simplest layout consists of two columns of content with or without additional tables for a header and a footer. As above, the header includes your logo and header graphics, one of the columns will consist of your navigation menu with links to other content while the second column will contain your copy, and your legal notice links. The footer will contain your copyright and possibly your website’s name.

If you have a medium to large website, you may need to use a layout with more columns and additional space for navigation menus, etc. Use a layout that meets your web site’s needs. As long as you don’t arrange your content haphazardly or use too many columns, the layout will remain fairly simple and easy to follow.

Depending on the size of your website, use a one, two, three, or four tier structure. For a one tier website design, your website structure should consist of your main page (home page) with links to your legal information. If your website is a content site, you may need to use a two or three tier structure with the main categories listed in your navigation menu. These then link to the content (two tier) or link to subcategories which then link to the content (three tier).

If your site is very complex, you may have main categories links in your navigation menu which link to subcategories. These subcategories may link to even smaller subcategories which will then link to specific content. A good example of this would be for a gardening site.  Here is an example: Bushes -> Flowering Bushes -> Roses -> Specific Rose Bushes.

You should not make your website any more than 4 layers deep. This guarantees that your visitor will be no more than 3 clicks away from your home page.

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