The first steps in web design are always vital, and choosing the ideal layout is undoubtedly one of them. A website layout is a foundation that influences how users interact with your platform and whether that interaction is smooth or broken. But you don’t want it to be too complex to make visitors leave, right?
Matching colors, high-quality images, and engaging content are great, but they are almost useless when there’s nothing underneath. In this article, we’re going to talk about the importance of the right layout and examine its key elements. From split-screen to box-based ones, we’ll show you different types of layouts along with the best ideas and examples to inspire you and make the most out of your UI UX design.
What is a website layout
In a nutshell, a website layout is the combination and adjustment of all visual elements on a web page. As a rule, these components are never put randomly — the proper arrangement is what helps to enhance the user experience.
A website layout determines the hierarchy of the page’s content and makes navigation clear and easy for users. It also has an impact on everything from what visitors notice first when opening a website to what elements hold their attention the longest. Besides, properly organized and chosen layouts can influence the website’s usability and significantly improve it.
Thus, a great website layout is a thing to consider because it can influence users’ attention and lead it in the required direction. It can also enhance the engagement rate and provide your visitors with a positive experience.
Why should you choose one layout over another
Before deciding on the layout, you should consider the following:
- Immediately after getting on your website, users are more likely to focus on the whole page rather than on some small details. Be original, and let them find the meaning path on their own for better engagement and memory of your website.
- Even though creativity is great, don’t forget to make sure that everything on the page is easily accessible. A good layout should help users find the desired information, while the bad one will only confuse and make them leave promptly.
- Your layout and engagement rate are strongly connected. If you want users to stay on your website longer and browse more pages — take the layout choice seriously.
All in all, choosing the right layout is like building a solid foundation for your home. Think twice, look through the multiple options, and don’t underestimate its importance in order to get the website of your dream.
How to choose the right layout
When the time of choosing the right layout comes, make sure not to miss out on these two things:
- The correlation between your content and layout
A proper website always has a message for its users that can be delivered through the content. Although the content of different websites can significantly vary depending on the business specifics, the layout should be fitting for it with no exception.
If you need a website for an online store, choose from the layouts that are perfect for presenting your products or services, and if your website is more of an information resource, think about deciding on the news or blog layout.
- The benefits of classic designs
Once again, creativity is a great way to stand out among the crowd and get remembered. Nevertheless, the classic layout options can be better in some cases.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that common layouts are more familiar to users, and when people feel comfortable, they stay longer on your website, which is beneficial for your business. It’s also worth mentioning that if you choose to use the classic layout, you can still customize it to fit your brand’s style and requirements. We’ll talk about it later in more detail, but for now, let’s discuss a not less critical topic.
The goals of a website layout
It’s safe to say that the main goal of your layout should correlate with the goals of your whole website. Whether you wish to boost your sales, improve your conversion rate, or brand awareness, the right layout will only help to achieve them. And here are the most crucial things for you to consider while designing a website layout:
- Information display
If the information on the page is logically arranged, the most important elements are easily visible, and users are able to quickly scan and navigate around them — the information display of layout is considered to be done properly.
- User engagement
Another thing being an indicator of a great layout is the rate of users’ engagement. A good website layout should guide visitors in the right direction and make them stay on your website as long as possible.
A proper website layout should also correlate with the company’s brand. If all elements from spacing to alignment are consistent — your layout choice is done correctly.
Now that we know it all, it’s the right time to talk about the layout design process in further detail.
The website layout design process
A curious thing about great layout designs is that they are invisible to users. When everything is designed and developed correctly, people navigate through web pages smoothly and easily without second-guessing. They buy products, fill up their shopping carts, and find the information they need intuitively: they don’t need to think about the website’s construction or the arrangement of its elements, or what is worse – struggle with it to get the desired action done.
Thus, the process of website layout creation is a big deal for web designers and happens almost at the very beginning. When you know the goals and strategy of your website, you can already map out a draft version of the fitting layout. It’s usually done through a wireframe that allows you to see how the elements on the page will look and make sure everything fits together.
Usually, the visual design follows the wireframe layout. In that case, its graphic elements get positioned strategically, which is far more effective in comparison to the pure aesthetic picture. To make the whole creating process easier, you can follow these steps:
- Identify all content areas
Decide on the amount of content you want to put on your website and divide it into comprehensive pieces. Choose their volumes carefully to make sure they all fit together visually. You can use squares or rectangles to represent your content, whether it’s text or images.
- Create a series of wireframes and prototypes
Having different options is a key to success. Even if you already know what exactly you want, don’t stop after creating the first wireframe. Design a couple — from simple to more complex, and compare them. You don’t have to be very detailed, though. Instead of working on chic graphics, concentrate on the user’s experience. Decide what’s the best element arrangement for them and make it as engaging and intuitive as possible. Don’t forget to ensure your layout is compatible with all screen sizes — missing out on this will definitely do you much harm.
- Test, gather feedback and iterate
After creating a series of wireframes, present your options to your colleagues for feedback and create interactive prototypes. You can use Figma to test all the buttons and navigation without actually having to build a web page. Another thing that can help you a lot is to find some trial users and record their experience on your website to find out possible failures or UX stumbling blocks. After gathering the needed information from them, you can return to the second step and iterate until you’re completely satisfied with the result.
Layout specifics and considerations
Now, we can define specifics and considerations of different layouts. A lot of them have a similar structure, but their style and arrangement choices can be truly diverse, so we’re going to look deeper into it.
Usually, web pages look good in the 1024×768 browser resolution since not many of them are sized at 940px in width or less. Keep in mind that the responsive ones can be wider, while mobile pages are designed to fit 320px width.
Columnar dimensions and padding
A columnar grid system with a certain column width is highly utilized these days. Due to this system, it’s possible to create layout columns by assigning a CSS column class to the div layer.
For background, it’s better to choose a full-sized image, a pure color, or a tiled wallpaper. It shouldn’t seem aggressive or irritating for users. Instead, try to evoke some positive emotions in them by using nice and soothing graphics.
To make your layout effective, choose consistent colors that match your logo and brand style. You can start with deciding on a primary color and then add some extra colors. Don’t forget to consider your target audience and business specifics before making a final choice.
One of the most popular website typefaces is considered to be sans-serif font since it’s easily readable. However, different fonts are often used for the titles to emphasize the difference between them and the main content area. For sans-serif fonts, web designers often choose Arial, Tahoma, and Verdana while Times New Roman, Georgia, and Palatino Linotype are the most popular serif fonts. When it comes to text colors, dark gray is the leader — it’s not as dark as pure black and helps avoid the use of colored texts. Another great tip is not to mix font families (more than one type for headers) and not to use bolding, italics, and capitalization until it’s really necessary.
This section can be found right on top of the web page. Usually, there you place a small brand logo, links to social media, phone numbers, and e-mails.
Header (logo area)
This section can be found right below the top-bar one. There can be a logo too, especially on the older websites. Sometimes there is also a company’s slogan.
The masthead area is below the logo one. You can find there a singular image on older websites and a slideshow on the more modern ones.
The navigation menu can be placed vertically or horizontally, on a left-sidebar, above or below a masthead, or at the top as a hamburger menu on mobile devices. There are numerous short links on the navigation menu that usually fit into one line. When needed, there can also be placed additional menu links as a part of the drop-down menu.
The main amount of content usually appears in the body of the page. It’s one of the most important areas of any web page since it can be indexed by search engines (your text should contain a fair amount of keywords), which is vital since it affects the visibility of your website in general.
Sidebars are a great help when there is lots of additional information. You can use them for contact or resource information, contact forms, secondary navigation, etc.
It’s not always easy to decide on the arrangement of the content elements. However, there are some patterns popular among many businesses. For instance, you can create 3 or 4 columns with images. If we’re talking about services, you can put their titles, brief descriptions, and links to their own pages. Make sure your web page looks complete but don’t overload it with unnecessary information, and that’ll do the trick.
The footer section is a must-have for modern websites and is normally placed at the bottom of the page. It can contain a couple of columns with short links to the basic information about the company, its geography, and social media.
10 website layout tips and ideas to a more attractive site
There is no need to get ahead of yourself in order to make your website a little more attractive. Use our simple tips below to create an amazing, highly engaging website layout, and you won’t go wrong.
01 Use real people photography
The time of stock images is in the past now. If you want to earn users’ trust, utilize the photos of real people with real emotions.
02 Simplify your menu
Overcomplication isn’t a smart move. Users tend to appreciate a short and clear menu, so if yours is too complex, you should change it. Create a topic hierarchy and make only the most important items visible. Don’t forget about a search bar to simplify the navigation even more.
03 Remove additional options
Numerous options can be a big distraction, so try not to put more than one call-to-action on your page. That way, users will be more likely to act quickly without second thoughts.
04 Remove and enlarge images
Too many images can overload your page like nothing else. Make sure to remove those you don’t really need and enlarge the necessary ones in order to make them more noticeable.
05 Change your color scheme
Don’t be afraid to play around with different color schemes. You may be surprised to find out that your target audience prefers diversity and consequently reacts much better to it.
06 Consider users intent
When users visit a website, they usually have a purpose. Whether you’re going to sell products or provide visitors with information, remember it when deciding on a layout. Consider visitors’ intent to arrange your website’s elements accordingly and leave a great impression.
07 Add trust emblems
Show people that they can trust your brand right away. For instance, you can add some positive testimonials on your website, create case studies, or simply include your partners/clients’ logos to prove your trustworthiness.
08 Make it clear how to get in touch
Contacting you should be easy for your visitors. You can leave your phone number, e-mail address, or add a chatbot to make sure users get their answers in no time.
09 Drive conversions with content hierarchy
If you want to ensure everything is easily accessible on your website, put yourself into your users’ shoes and search for something specific, starting with your homepage. It shouldn’t take a lot of time or demand a huge amount of clicks when everything is arranged properly.
10 Get your visitors’ opinions
Last but not least — gather the information you need straight from your users’ opinions. They will not lie.
The ins and outs of how to design a website layout that works
Step #1 Define your goals
Before deciding on the design specifics, you should always define your main goal. Think about what kind of business you’re going to promote, what values you want to translate, and what purposes your website’s pages should have.
Step #2 Put it on paper
Keeping everything in your head is great, but there is always a possibility that you’ll eventually forget something. Put your goals on paper and write down notes on every little detail you find essential. Add some options if you’re not sure what exactly you want. It will allow you to choose later or ask someone for advice.
Step #3 Sketch the top-level framework
When the goals of both your website and layout are clear, it’s high time to start the creation process. Sketch the framework you want to see, but don’t overcomplicate it. Having a few drafts can help with choosing the one you find the most suitable, so don’t stop after your first one.
Step #4 Employ a grid
Grids are necessary in order to create connections between the elements on your page. If you want to arrange everything properly, always employ them. Grids do not just show how all of your page’s elements interact but they also give a sense of order to your layout design
Step #5 Choose your fonts
When it comes to choosing the right fonts for your website, many web designers prefer safe, classic options such as sans-serif. Such simple fonts are great for the main body of the text. However, you can always pick fancier fonts for headlines and titles. If you’re not certain about your choice, check out Google Fonts, and you’ll definitely find something you’ll like.
Step #6 Think simple
The more intuitive your layout is – the easier it’s for your users’ navigation. Don’t give them too many options, shorten your menu, and don’t forget to make all the basic topics (such as “Contact,” “About Us,” “FAQ,” etc.) visible.
There is no need to make up creative topics’ names or use sophisticated language. Users shouldn’t think twice before clicking the button or link they need, and keeping it simple is the best way to make their experience better.
Step #7 Utilize negative space
Negative space is a critical part of any website’s layout. It helps not overwhelm users and focus their attention on the right items. Using negative space in layout web design is also good for creating a hierarchy of information — that helps control users’ attention and guides it in the right direction.
Step #8 Realize that colors matter
One of the biggest mistakes is to underestimate the power of colors. According to the numerous psychology surveys, some colors can encourage users to make a quicker decision when it comes to buying products.
The explanation behind this is quite simple: certain colors evoke certain emotions. Hence, knowing your audience and their preferences well enough, you can engage them with color schemes and influence in a way that’s beneficial for your business.
Step #9 Format persuasive copy properly
The main rule for the text placement is to do it the way that’ll positively affect the conversion. A headline is usually put center-stage on the homepage, and the whole text is often shaped like the “F” letter, making it easier to read.
If your page incorporates a lot of content, you can divide it into several sections. Thus you’ll make everything look simpler and don’t allow overwhelming users’ eyes.
Step #10 Keep movement in mind
People come to your website with a purpose, and it’s always smart to keep in mind what movement they will most likely make in order to create a truly intuitive layout. Make sure all your elements are arranged sequentially to make the navigation around them logical and convenient.
Step #11 Be clear about the outcome
If you want your layout to be effective, make sure it gently but assuredly guides your users through the whole process. It doesn’t matter what their final destination is — it can be anything from a complete order to a phone call. The most important thing here is to lead users from the beginning to that final point, and clear and visible CTAs are the elements that can help you.
Step #12 Don’t be afraid to borrow
Learning small things about layout designing is important, but noticing them on different websites can be even better. Do your research, visit your competitors’ websites, and use whatever you’ll find out to your advantage. There is no harm in borrowing and improving something you find appropriate for your own business.
Step #13 Go responsive
Not making your website mobile-friendly is a huge mistake. Nowadays, it is vital for most businesses to have a website that is equally easily accessible on any kind of digital device — otherwise, you’ll lose a lot of traffic, which will noticeably decrease your conversion rate.
Step #14 Feature your offerings & smiling faces
It is a well-known fact that large and beautiful images help to improve conversion rates. For example, smiley and happy people with your products will positively affect users’ trust level in your brand and encourage them to make a purchase more quickly.
Step #15 Strategically place trust emblems and social proof elements
Once again, don’t forget to prove your trustworthiness in any possible way. Collect your clients’ testimonials and images, put your partners’ logos on your website, or create links to case studies. The more positive feedback you have, the more reliable you will look in the eyes of your potential clients.
Step #16 Create a solid prototype
Prototyping is a good way to ensure your website is going to look exactly the way you want while being highly efficient as well. The best part of it is that you don’t even have to know how to code for it — there are enough tools that will make all the hard work for you.
Step #17 Pay attention to details
Every element on your website matters and there is no sense in denying it. Be attentive to details, even if they don’t seem significant enough. From menus and images to colors and fonts — everything is important to layout web design since they are all a part of the big, final picture. Don’t miss out on any details, and you won’t have to fix anything afterward.
Step #18 Keep testing
If you want to increase your conversions, always keep on testing. Try and change various elements on your website to see what your audience prefers. Don’t be afraid to implement something new — even small things like CTAs can drastically influence users’ reactions. Keep your tests, and you’ll achieve the desired results with no doubt.
Step #19 Refine, sharpen, and improve
Take care of every single detail and try to sharpen it as if the whole website depends on it. Refine your elements and treat them with equal respect to get the finest layout in the end.
Step #20 Keep improving
Even when everything’s done and seems to be perfect — don’t ever stop improving. There is no such thing as the final point of perfection in web design, but there is always room for improvement. Try new things, change your styles, play around with the colors, and search the Internet for inspiration. Keep improving, and you’ll create things you’ll be proud of.
The best website layout ideas
Now that you know all the tips and steps that are necessary for layout creation, it’s time to learn about the best layout ideas. Here’s our list with the top 10 of them.
- Z-pattern layout
It’s not really a secret that people tend to swiftly glance all over a web page before concentrating on its most important elements. However, not everyone knows that the skim reading is usually done in a zig-zag pattern. In other words, in the shape of the letter Z.
Users’ eyes follow the pattern from the left top corner to the right one, then down to the bottom left corner, and the right one again. This way allows them to quickly scan information and decide if it’s interesting or important enough. Thus, the diagonal part of the pattern should include the most important information, and the bottom line often features engaging CTAs.
This website layout is great for web pages with big images and landing pages that aim at great conversions.
- F-pattern layout
The F-pattern layout is similar to the previous one since it’s also based on the same principle — putting your content in the shape of the letter. The first horizontal line here is usually heavy with text and catches the most attention. There go headlines, titles, and images, and then users’ eyes go vertically downwards.
This type of layout is used for websites with a lot of content (such as blog pages or news portals), and it’s really important to put the most engaging content on the top since visitors stay there a little longer. The vertical line of this pattern can help you to make the page look less cluttered and more appealing. There can also be images, bullet points, or icons.
- Fullscreen image layout
Fullscreen image layout speaks for itself — it features a huge image that’s placed front-and-center. Such large visuals easily grab the attention and show users who you are and what you represent.
Aside from the picture, you can add a video or illustration — it doesn’t really matter. Here the most important thing for your visuals is to be of high quality and engaging. They should also be followed by a short line or piece of text that introduces you and encourages people to explore more.
A fullscreen image layout suits best businesses that obtain amazing visuals. It’s perfect for photography websites or the ones that sell any specific product.
- Split-screen layout
A split-screen layout is a perfect choice for websites that either offer completely different types of products/services or want to nicely combine both written and visual content.
A split-screen layout is usually divided into two equal sections by a vertical line right in the middle of the screen. Such separation allows web designers to bring distinct ideas to life and demonstrate the same one from completely different angles. You can put images on both sides of the screen or choose an image on one side and a text block on the other.
Notice that two sections of this layout should not fight for attention. Instead, they are meant to complement and empathize with each other’s peculiarities. Online shops love this layout idea and often use it to show visitors their options from the very beginning (e.g. “Men” and “Women” categories). Nevertheless, a split-screen website layout can be useful not only for e-commerce websites — it will most likely engage users on all kinds of websites if the visuals and text are picked correctly.
- Asymmetrical layout
Fancy asymmetrical layouts are another option for those who want to split their screen into different parts. This time — not equal.
Due to asymmetrical design, the entire layout often seems more engaging and dynamic. You can use different colors, styles, images sizes, and others to make your sections even more diverse. If you want to draw users’ attention to certain elements, you can always make them stand out by size or color.
One part of such a layout is usually highlighted, so the most vital information is placed there. Asymmetrical layouts are great for innovative unique businesses that want to show their creativity and involve visitors immediately.
- Single column layout
This type of layout contains all its content within one vertical column. It’s often seen as a calm, simple, and very direct way to design a web page.
The single-column layout is highly intuitive. Visitors can smoothly navigate through it since all they need to get more information is to scroll down. The only thing you should definitely remember about a single-column layout is that it’s critical to add a “Back to top” button for users’ convenience.
In case your single-column layout website incorporates a lot of content, don’t forget to divide it into paragraphs and include some images in order not to overwhelm readers. Try to put everything chronologically so that your web page looks neat and appealing.
- Box-based layout
The box-based layout has an interesting geometric design as long as its pieces of content are merged into one. Not to overload the page, content here is put into multiple boxes, and each box contains a link to a different web page.
Creating one big box with the most important eye-catching content and a couple of smaller ones is a regular thing. You can put text content into the big box and use small boxes for visuals to create a harmonious and appealing design.
This sort of layout is good for portfolios or any other websites that have lots of images. It’s also quite useful since it allows you to create endless small boxes that provide links to other web pages.
- Cards layout
A card’s layout is similar to a box-based layout in many ways. First of all, it also uses boxes that include different types of content. Secondly, there is no strict hierarchy, and all elements are mostly equal. That means that everything is approximately the same when it comes to their sizes, fonts, etc.
Such design looks great on all kinds of digital devices and is known for its simple and intuitive navigation. It can be used for big websites with lots of content such as online stores.
- Magazine layout
If you like the design of printed newspapers and magazines, this layout style might be the right choice for you. A magazine layout is usually shaped in the F letter pattern and has big headlines that easily grab users’ attention.
Of course, you still can split your content into smaller pieces or play around with the colors, fonts, and sizes of your elements. The magazine layout is perfect for blogs, news portals, or just any content-heavy website.
- Horizontal stripe layouts
This type of layout has numerous full-width stripes that are all different and comprise their own content. Normally, they are designed in similar styles and color schemes.
Occasionally, some of them contain visuals while others obtain text blocks, and sometimes everything is mixed. Horizontal stripe layouts are usually long and demand some scrolling down. They are perfect for landing pages of any kind.
Top 10 examples
Knowing the theory is always useful, but there is nothing better than a good example. Here you can see the top 10 examples of website layouts we absolutely love.
01 Caffe Streets
Caffe Streets is an engaging website with an intuitive header menu, high-quality images, and clear navigation. Its style isn’t complex but still up-to-date. The search bar is easily noticeable, just as the names of big companies they’ve been featured on. Their articles are put into smaller boxes that don’t overload the page. All in all, it looks nice and trustworthy, which engages visitors right from the start.
Mailchimp is a well-known e-mail marketing company. Their layout contains the full-screen image and hidden header menu. It looks extremely simple and doesn’t overwhelm viewers, while the colors give a sense of calamity and assurance. The negative space between the elements here is pretty big that is also pleasant for the perception. Their layout is easy to navigate, and there are enough links that can be found in different sections of the page.
Kvell is another amazing company whose purpose is to make contemporary and functional designs attainable to everyone. Their layout is also extremely user-friendly since it has a full-screen image and hidden links in the menu. Each link leads users to a new web page that is colored differently but still designed in a similarly simple way.
04 Clemens Hill
Clemens Hill is a wine company that was founded 20 years ago. Its website has a split-screen layout where images are put on the left side while the text block is on the right one. Their colors are soft and appealing, there are enough negative spaces, and the navigation system is amazingly intuitive.
Medium is one of the most popular blogging platforms that provide visitors with a huge amount of information. As long as it’s a heavy-content website, the layout was made to help people perceive information without getting overwhelmed. It has a multi-column grid with a complex hierarchy and implemented small illustrations. There is also enough negative space that helps not overload the page and allows users’ eyes to rest. Overall, this style is close to the magazine layout and is perfect for resources with a lot of text publications.
Dropbox has a complex layout with a lot of elements, which makes it amazingly dynamic. Here users can learn more with the help of the header menu or scroll down and find more information and links. Dropbox has numerous creative visuals and a simple navigation system that makes this layout even more engaging. Even though the website has a lot of content, it’s very intuitive and user-friendly.
07 Engine Themes
Engine Themes is a great example of a split-screen layout that is divided into two vertical parts. Both of them contain a piece of text and share the same image but are colored differently. The website has a header menu and multiple links to other pages that you can find while scrolling down. The simplicity of design and easy navigation also makes this layout a great choice for this type of website.
08 Home Societe
Home Societe gives us a brilliant opportunity to see a seamless asymmetrical split-screen layout. The block on the left side contains an image and vertical navigation, while the block on the right gives us a small piece of information with the bigger image. The transition between these two blocks is very gentle, and the soft colors make the whole page even more appealing.
09 Good Mens Goods
This layout is box-based, engaging, and vigorous. There are numerous sections with both visual and text content along with the header menu. The bright colors perfectly suit the dynamic of this website, while negative space does its job to not overload the page.
Assemble’s layout is a grid of cards that hide lots of information under the beautiful, high-quality visuals. Such a structure allows providing users with a big amount of information while looking clear, fresh, and appealing. This layout is highly responsive and shows its elements with equal hierarchy. It’s a great choice for heavy-content websites that care about users’ experience.
On a final note
The website layout is one of the most important parts of any website that can significantly influence its conversion, usability, and engagement rate. A good layout should effortlessly guide users through the website until they reach their destination. Although the website layout design process isn’t the simplest, we provided you with some tips that can help in achieving the desired results.
In this article, we found out how to create the most effective layouts and considered the best website layout ideas for different businesses. We established the importance of a proper layout and defined its primary goals. If you have any questions or would like to learn more about website layout design, feel free to contact our team. We won’t make you wait long.