If you surf the internet at all, you know that the majority of websites follow a standard design layout:
- Logo in the upper left corner
- Primary navigation under the logo
- Content on the left
You get the picture, right? While it is true that you don’t want your business website to look like ‘all the rest’ or blend into the pack, there are a lot of reasons to stick with the formula.
Right to left, right to left
First off, the logo and it’s placement in the upper left of the website. The logo should be considered the overall branding piece of your business. It is placed on all materials related to your business and should always be consistent across all forms of marketing materials. Visitors on websites typically view the upper left first simply because that is the standard reading sweep for most – in other words, we read left to right.
When a visitor arrives on your website, you want them to know exactly where they are and so placement of that logo is extremely important. Your business website has approximately 5 seconds to make an impression. You need to nail it.
Studies have confirmed that features in the first screen quadrant are indeed noticed faster than others placed on the bottom right. usability.About.com
Meet the user’s expectations
Because the average web user has seen the business logo of a website in the upper left, it’s expected to be there. Visually, seeing the logo there is a comfort and makes the visitor feel like this experience is going to go well. On the other hand, removing the logo from that top left position can have a jarring effect on visitors, which is not a positive in keeping a visitor on the site.
Where do We Go from Here
The same can be said for the navigation of the site. The standard navigation is horizontal and under the section that contains the logo, which is typically called the header. How to navigate your business site should be a no-brainer for the visitor. Don’t make it difficult.
Consider the same advice for content. If anything distracts from the message of your website and what you want the visitor to do, then you are doing it wrong. Period.
Oh so pretty
Here’s the thing: it is possible to have a stellar design for your website while following the informal ‘standard of design’. A good designer can create that wow factor without resorting to what amounts to website shock tactics. Remember that a website should have a purpose and that is to raise brand awareness, provide information and ultimately, make the visitor take a desired action (phone call, fill out contact form, make a purchase, etc.). It isn’t really the time to color outside of the lines.