Clarity Over Clutter
Whether it is a poster or a website, layout can mean the difference between clear communication and customer confusion, which leads to wasted advertising dollars. Layout generally refers to the sizing, spacing, and placement of content on a page (in our case, a web page). Psychologically, a good web layout plays to the natural flow of the eye, allows for plenty of white space, has a clear focus, provides a logical grouping of elements, and has other aesthetically-pleasing attributes to attract a consumer and lead them through the flow. An effective layout is crucial to helping users understand product or service offerings, find what they are looking for quickly, and create a greater chance of customer recall through visual appeal. Most importantly for businesses, the layout should be coherent, eye-catching, and functional. Included in this article is a breakdown of how a good designer achieves these goals and what it will mean for your business if a web layout is effective.
Designers have found that people scan for information in common ways, moving logically from left-to-right or in order of perceived importance. Designers have formulaic layout templates to fit this pattern of movement across design, but not all design can take the place of effective communication. Particularly-selected language and a fleshed-out purpose will enable you to reach your target audience in a coherent way, assuming the target audience is known. Determining what your web page is supposed to do will help with layout design and its various elements, particularly those whose strategy will be furthered by aesthetic. Some examples of this are navigation words or an enticing call-to-action. Call-to-actions should be obvious, with highly visible placement in the layout. Proper placement within the layout will emphasize the look of the particular object, and create a strong composition within the overall design.
Stunning visuals will set your website apart, making page information more readily digestible. A good designer will make suggestions regarding images and font, but one of the most important assets to your site will be its use of space. Space, or “white” space, is room on the page that is not occupied by anything. Though it does not literally have to be white, it does have to be unoccupied by text or image. Whitespace functions under the assumption that people do not want to stare at nothing; they want to look at something, and empty spaces will naturally draw the eye to your visual. For example: careful use of space can draw in the consumer to a logo, navigation bar, or featured button. Organization of elements, tasteful graphics, and adequate space between them can make the difference between easy clicks and confusing clutter. Ideally, your site should have a media kit that is unique to your brand, with button sets that possess their own unique shape, texture, or hue. It is important to be able to find the buttons, have a preconceived idea of where they will lead, and recognize the buttons as indeed being buttons.
Briefly we covered focusing on layout components to add coherence to a website. Whereas your marketer and copywriter can emphasize points about your product/service and order specific directions for your consumers to follow, your designer will suggest functional ways for your consumers to find and receive this information. A quirky “About Us” page, search bar, contact info page, informational footer, email sign-up, and logical navigation tabs are important functional attributes of any modern web page. For example, the search bar is a helpful way to access all information on the site with ease. If details are lost, a FAQ page can combine common questions onto a single page. A simple informational footer can keep a design clean by anchoring all relevant information to the foot of any page for easy access. It’s okay for the footer to repeat elements found elsewhere, this is often its purpose. The functionality of the footer lies in this repetition, providing more than one access point to any page.
In the case of web layout, the whole is the sum of its parts. You must think carefully about the pieces: how to logically navigate from one page to another, and how to make it look clean and attractive. In cuisine, it is referred to as plating. This time of year, it would be referred to as “spring cleaning.” At Creative Juice, we’ll take your great ideas and plate them so they look delicious, as a layout, not food.