Most folks I work with have ideas of what they want and where they want it when it comes to the layout of their websites. They know the hex codes for colors and where images are to display — sometimes down to the pixel.
When helping clients pick a theme for their sites, I not only recommend they gravitate towards premium WordPress themes but that they must take time to go through the provided theme demos. With a fine-tooth comb! You want to be sure that the placement of navigation, information and the various widgets cater to how you want to display your site’s information.
Catering to What Visitors Assume
What happens quite often, however, is the desire to have certain features moved — just because. Certain site items such as logos, navigation, search and logins, for example, are located in specific areas for good reason.
We shouldn’t consider moving and/or replacing standard and customary site staples with data or information just because. What we all have to remember is there are expectations by your site visitors for common site items to be placed where visitors are used to finding them and will look to find them.
Readers like what they are used to.
We want to make our site easy to use.
We don’t want to mess with that!
Examples of this include having contact info in the footer, subscribe, Twitter and Facebook links in the top right of the sidebar. For me I’ve had the best results when these items are “above the fold” while the other side of this debate is these items should be in the footer. Either or both will work as those are the two most common areas where site visitors are used to finding this information.
Above the Fold!
Above the fold means having your most important information display without site visitors having to scroll vertically down the page. Your above the fold presentation is what provides visitors with that all so important and sometimes one-shot first impression of your site. Stats show:
What appears at the top of the page vs. what’s hidden will always influence the user experience — regardless of screen size. The average difference in how users treat info above vs. below the fold is 84%.
While we all want what we want, we can’t ignore what visitors will expect when they land at our site if we want to draw them in and keep them seeking more. If you want them to scroll you need to offer a compelling experience to do so.
The Heat is On!
If you want to confirm what site visitors look at when the land on your site you could use any number of Heat Map services.
What is a Heat Map?
A website heat map will accumulate a visual display of the areas most frequently scanned by visitors. The colors will range from hot/red to show the most looked at areas vs. the cooler/blue areas.
Here some of the staples for your consideration:
- Company Logo Top Left.
- Primary Pages Top of Screen.
- Search Box Above the Fold and again in the Footer Widgets.
- Social Follow, Search and Subscribe boxes Top of Sidebar.
- Copyright, Contact Info, Privacy, SiteMap bottom of Footer.
You’ll agree the online environment is very competitive. This means we all need to study and apply what has proven to work and continue to test and tune what will work for your specific site. Taking the time to find a theme that covers both, the staples and your priorities, will offer the best experience for your site visitors — and your bottom line!
At your service,