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Website Layout - Is a Creative Homepage a Good Thing?
Creative website layouts sound like it would be a good thing, but what happens when creativity by a web designer goes too far and interferes with a site's usability? If a site visitor can't navigate the site and find what they are looking for creativity has interfered with potential profits.
As a company, BANG! has been a leader in the industry, with our first web design projects taking place in 1996. That's over 25 years of experience. One of the lessons we've learned is that creativity can impact the bottom line. We have watched designers over the years push the boundaries of web layout to the limits, with funky symbols for navigation and lack of visual feedback to the site visitor. When prospective customers come to a site and wonder, is this thing a link? We know the designer has failed even if the website wins awards for creativity.
Homepage layout needs to be clear and concise, letting site visitors get to the information they are looking for. With that thinking in mind here are some website layout conventions that while they may not be creative, they are profitable. A typical header on our sites looks like the image below. Read on for a description of each of the elements.
- Logo - Top left in the header, linked to the homepage, always. From any page of the website an user should have an easy way to get back home.
- Phone Number - If getting a customer to the site is goal #1, thank you SEO services, getting the customer to then call is typically goal #2 and the one that results in business for many of our clients. That phone number needs to be clickable, especially in mobile responsive mode, to allow the customer to "Click to Call".
- Contact Us or Request for Quote Button - Some of our client's don't want that phone call as the primary CTA (Call to Action). They would prefer a customer to fill out a lead generation contact form, or provide more information about their needs through a RFQ (Request for Quote) form. That's fine, but make that CTA obvious and put the Contact Us button in the top right corner of the site on a desktop layout, or maybe even span the whole width of the phone on a mobile display. Some of our client's don't have a preference on the CTA so we make both the phone number and contact button nearly equal in importance on the website layout.
- Navigation - Whether you are a little old school and there's an actual "bar" for the links, or more of a modern design with simply a row of links. Limit the number of choices an user needs to make. "Decision Paralysis" occurs when there are too many choices that the site visitor just chooses the simplest choice of the back button and leaves your overly complicated site for something simpler. Again, at that point your web layout cost you business. Keep the top-level navigation choices as simple as you can. It's perfectly fine to have flyout menus with secondary pages underneath, but be careful how many linked primary pages are across the top. This isn't last century when people were still getting used to browsing the web. Trust me, they'll hover over those top levels with even the smallest hint that there's more below.
- Visually Appealing Hero Image - Giving website visitors some "eye candy" and letting them know visually they are at the right website is a smart move to prevent high bounce rates on your site.
- Visual Rich Image Links - At BANG! we are big believers in images to drive navigation from the homepage to the right secondary pages. You'll often see a row or two of small images with a text caption underneath that visually identify what that secondary page is about. The old adage, a picture is worth a Thousand words is certainly true when it comes to homepage layouts. Here's a couple of examples of how that looks.
These image based links typically go below the hero image, or even below the H1 and first paragraph of copy or two. They help site visitors visually know they are at the right site and have an easy time of choosing where to go next to get the information they are looking for.
Anything we can do during design to help them answer the question they searched for is smart web design. Our sites aren't always the most creative, but they rank well and convert prospects into customers. And isn't that exactly why you have a website to begin with?
About the Author
Brian Rideout, Chief Pixel Pusher of BANG! Web Site Design is an industry veteran (sounds better than old guy right?) who started building websites in 1996 when dial-up, modems, Netscape, and 640 x 480 resolution monitors with 256 colors were state of the art. We very quickly adopted ColdFusion as our application server. We developed CMS (Content Management Systems) powered sites for our clients so they could update their own websites easily without having to pay a web designer to do so.
Times changed, Google became the dominant search engine, Adobe bought ColdFusion, and we switched to Lucee for our application server, which is an open-source CFML language server. We continued to build websites for small businesses in the Phoenix market. Brian's approach of SEO 1st Design has resulted in many businesses, particularly in the building trades such as contractors and plumbers, as well as law firms, ranking at the top of Google's results which keeps our customers healthy, wealthy, and profitable (you thought I was going to say wise didn't you? Ben Franklin's quote).
We continue to provide website design, website development, hosting, SEO services and digital marketing for Phoenix companies. More information about the company can be found on our About Us page. Click the following link for examples of our award winning website design work.