Now that we’ve done some research on what your visitors are looking for and at on your website, we can take our first stab at our layout, or where things should go on the website. Here are a few basics:
- The menu should be either across the top or down the left. A link to the homepage should be the top or left-most link. Menu items should be links to what people are looking for on your site. Examples: Products, Services, About, Contact. You should setup a hierachy that makes sense. All your products should be listed on the first Products page (or have links from there). All your services should be listed on the first Services page (or have links from there). You get the idea….
- A search box, if you have one, should be in the upper right. There should be a text box to input your search terms and then a button right to the right of it which says ‘Search’.
- Your most important and/or most frequently updated content should be in the upper left. Visitors scan left to right and then back to the left further down the page, continuing until they have to scroll down the page. Use the research gathered in Part 1 to select the items that are most important and lay them out left to right, then down the page as if you are reading (you probably find yourself scanning down pages in this same manner on other sites). To borrow a term from print newspapers, items above the fold (or what is immediately viewable without scrolling) should be your most important content, products or services.
- Provide text links at the bottom of each page to your highest level or most important links to make them easy to find.
- White space should be incorporated to break up text and make it easy for visitors to scan your website for what they are looking for.
- Minimize movement of pictures, ads and movies – they are distracting and annoying to visitors who are looking at your site.
Once you put your layout into place, you are ready for B2B Website Usability Basics – Part 3 – Testing.