Web Design Industry Blog

Blog Rss Feed

The importance of web design layout

Published on August 20, 2012
Tags: Web Design London

The question of layout is one that matters in all website designs. The layout contributes to the overall success of the website – it helps to determine what it looks like, how easy the content is to read and the kind of experience that users have when they pay a visit to the site. The fact that its purposes are both aesthetic and practical means that this is certainly an issue web designers need to engage with.

One of the key concepts that is often talked about with regards to the layout of website designs is ‘the fold’ – how much of the site users are able to see without needing to scroll down and, in particular, how much useful content (as opposed to ads or graphics, for example) they are able to see without scrolling.

This is a particularly interesting concept because earlier this year, Google released an algorithm update aimed at pages that don’t have a huge amount of quality content above the fold. This update was prompted by complaints from people about, for instance, clicking on a search result and being directed to a webpage where it was hard to tell whether or not it was actually relevant because the ‘above the fold’ section was so full of ads.

The issue is not getting rid of above the fold ads altogether, but more about making sure they are not so excessive that it impacts on the user experience – something that most web designers are probably more than aware of anyway but a point that’s worth reiterating. It isn’t just to do with excessive ad placements, either. We’ve probably all been on websites where all we’ve initially been able to see is a title, and perhaps some graphics or navigation options – all useful components of a webpage, but not necessarily what people are looking for when they’re after quality, relevant content.

The lesson here is surely that web designers need to make sure they have a good amount of high quality content above the fold of their websites, to make sure they are instantly relevant to users and so they don’t have to go looking for that content. However, one of the issues that arise with this is the fact that ‘the fold’ on websites can be quite a different thing depending on how people are choosing to view a particular site.

When we talk about ‘the fold’ in relation to newspapers, we always know how big the newspaper is going to be. We know how it needs to be laid out and we know how people are going to look at it, so making sure the most important information is above the fold isn’t too difficult. However, when it comes to websites, a person could be viewing a site on anything from a desktop PC to a small smartphone screen to a tablet or even a television. Browser size tools can be used to help designers work out the content that is likely to appear above the fold for most users, but it is unlikely to be an exact science.

In many ways, this brings us back to those topics we have discussed many times before – creating a good user experience and utilising high quality content on every single website we design. It also has a lot to do with common sense; we want web users to find the sites we create useful, and we want them to come back for more, so it makes sense to ensure the sites flow properly and aren’t cluttered with ads and that the content is easy to find.

It’s also interesting that if you do a Google search for, say, ‘web design’, the results don’t actually display that much content above the fold. Most of the space is taken up by ads and navigation tools, and a test search found only two natural search results appeared above the fold – despite the algorithm update released by Google focusing on this issue, it seems they may not have taken their own advice.

Overall, we cannot deny the importance of layout in web design. The algorithm update and ‘the fold’ aside, it has a significant impact on how a web user views a site, and so making sure our layouts are perfect every time we create a new page is something that should certainly be at the top of every designer’s mind.

By Chelsey Evans

Submit Blog & RSS Feeds 


No comments received yet. Be the first by completing the form below!

Leave a comment


Name *:

Email Address*:

Comment *:

Security Code:*
Reset Security Code


Follow Us: Follow us on Google+ Follow us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter Follow us on LinkedIn

Disclaimer: The content of this article is provided for information only and do not constitute advice. We are not liable for any actions that you might take as a result of reading this information, and always recommend that you speak to a qualified professional if in doubt.

Reproduction: This article is © Copyright Ampheon. All rights are reserved by the copyright owners. Permission is granted to freely reproduce the article provided that a hyperlink with a do follow is included linking back to this article page.