A website should be considered the same as a virtual storefront. You want it to present your content, either products or information, in a thoughtful way that connects with your users.
With the landscape of the internet as vast as it is (and getting bigger by the day), your website must have everything your users are looking for.
Just as important is how it's all structured. Your company should be taking advantage of every element your website can offer your target demographic.
The Parts of A Website
Websites used to be simple compared to what they are now. A few hyperlinks, mostly text. Maybe an image.
But now, websites have become opportunities for high-quality design. Functional layouts that catch the user's eye from top to bottom while maintaining an easy-to-use navigation system.
Let's break down every element on your website to fully understand what you need on your web pages and how to create the best user experience (UX) possible.
A landing page typically lives on your website but isn't the same as the rest of the web pages you might have available.
Think of a landing page as where you want your users to end up if they click on a link from anywhere outside of your website. You'll want it to take them straight to what you were offering that made them interested.
Instead of potentially distracting them with other options or pages, landing pages typically are self-contained and only provide information on a focused subject.
Perhaps you've created an ad for social media services that shows off a sale you're having. The link would click over from that ad and take them to a landing page that exclusively discusses the sale and shows them only that information.
By focusing on specific topics or content from your overall site, landing pages can reduce distractions and bounce rates. Bounce rate is the number of users that visit your website but leave quickly after seeing the first page available.
Your header is the top section of your website that typically houses things like your company logo, navigation systems (whether drop-down menus, an internal search engine, or both), and other content like an image or contact info.
The current trend for headers is to keep them minimalistic, but of course, it's up to you and your company whether you want to follow or break the mold.
Headers follow the user around on every page they visit, allowing easy access to the navigation system you have in place.
Your company logo should stand out on your website. You want users to recognize that they're on your page, after all. There isn't a set location for the logo to go, although the header is a good place to start.
The navigation system layout on your website is up to you. You could have link buttons across the top to different pages on your site, or you could have everything compacted into a drop-down directory.
Today's users expect superior navigational resources, particularly a high-quality internal search engine.
With major search engine services utilizing natural language understanding and complex algorithms to be as accurate and easy to use as they are, your page must contain a tool just as powerful.
Also known as the hero image, this is the main picture a user first notices when visiting your page. Generally, you'll want this image to cover the entire horizontal spread of your page, and incorporating some text isn't a bad idea as well.
The image should grab the user's attention while also projecting what your company represents, either your values or product.
A slide takes a series of images and progresses through them at a casual rate. This allows you to show users more than one picture without taking up more real estate on your page.
It can be helpful to provide a back-and-forth tool as well so that your visitors can skip forward or back to something that caught their eye instead of having to wait until it comes back around.
Of course, the essential element of your website is the content you have on it. And while you might think (not completely incorrectly) that everything we're discussing is content, you want to focus on the specific content you're presenting to your audience.
Whether it's the product you're selling, a blog you're updating, or anything else, your content needs to be accessible to your users. Make sure everything is organized appropriately.
As a tip, make sure that everything on your page is well-written and relevant to what your page is presenting. Search engines look for high-quality, relevant content when searching the index for results to return to users, so making sure that you have the best content for the user will be helpful for SEO.
This doesn't mean you have to explicitly stick to one topic on your page, though. If you were selling automotive parts, for example, you could include blogs about the latest auto body design trends or useful information for your customers like how to change their tires.
The sidebar is a vertical strip on one side, typically the left, of your page. You can fit auxiliary data or links here, like recommended products or useful articles relative to what the user is looking at.
You don't want to overpopulate the sidebar, though, because it can be pretty easy to make your whole layout look cluttered and overwhelm visitors.
The footer is the opposite of the header (get it?) Instead of being at the top of your page, the footer lives at the bottom.
The footer of your website is a great place to place links to general information like your contact options, testimonials, and social media references.
Users are accustomed to going to the footer for these types of links, so ensure they're available and easy to find.
Call To Action
A Call To Action is more of a concept than a specific thing on your page. It could take the form of a pop-up ad, an interactive banner, or even a well-written link at the top of your page.
Essentially a Call To Action is something that inspires your visitor to engage with your page. It doesn't need to be a purchase necessarily; it could simply be clicking on a different page. But getting users to interact with your page can boost their experience as well as your conversion rates.
A blog is a great tool for SEO and boosting traffic rates. Even if your company is focused on product sales, bringing users to your site through a blog is extremely important because that traffic may peruse your page until they find something they like.
Blogs give your page more content for search engines to find and link to users, so as long as they're well written and relevant to your product or company mission, they can be a powerful way to bring more people to your website.
There are multiple types of forms, and they can all be pretty useful for user engagement and data collection.
Forms could include customer service feedback, mailing sign-ups, or contact services, which tend to be particularly useful.
Users type in a message that they'd like to send to your business and include their contact information. This is an easy way to collect user information that will be beneficial to managing your site as a whole.
Internal or External Links
You might want to reference content you have elsewhere on your site to what users are viewing. This is an internal link. Internal links could include an image of the product, or if it's a useful article, then just the text would do well.
While you wouldn't want to add external links that take your users to competitors, they can be seen as helpful if your page connects visitors with other helpful blog posts that cover what they're looking for.
External links are also a great way to back up any statistics or specific pieces of information your page has.
What your website includes from this list is up to you. But your page layout should keep in mind the user experience and their time spent browsing your content.
Whether it's one-click right to what they're looking for or a well-organized collection of products for a user to browse, your website should be thoughtfully put together. With so much competition on the worldwide web today, you need your site to stand out, and by understanding all of these parts, we're confident you'll be able to create something extraordinary.