How to Create the Perfect Website Layout
Creating a great website layout is not as easy as it looks. Luckily, we’ve compiled a list of tips, steps and examples to help you create a sound structure for your site.
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When the bones are good, the rest don’t matter! This isn’t exactly true for web design, but a layout is definitely a prerequisite for a well-performing site. Learn how to design a website layout that will boost your site’s performance!
If you’ve been looking for web design inspiration, there’s a good chance you haven’t paid attention to great website layout examples.
You’re not alone! A good layout is like salt in food - it’s only when it oesn’t work that you start to notice it.
But don’t worry, you’re in the right place. Here’s everything to know about good web design layout.
How to design a website layout in 6 steps
Website design is a long and complex process. And the foundation of it is creating a sound layout.
1. Define goals and audience
The layout of an ecommerce website will be widely different from an online magazine layout. In order to start creating webpage layout, you should answer the following questions:
- Who is using your website and why?
- What steps should they take to complete their goal?
2. Research and inspiration
Can you copy a website layout? Absolutely! Unllke images and , it’s pretty difficul to copyright a website layout.
With web design, it’s advisable to research widely. However, with layout design it’s best to stick to businesses in your industry (as we’ve explained layouts will differ significantly with different types of websites).
In the last section of this article, we’ll show you some of the best website layout examples, so you can always start your research there!
3. Create a wireframe
A wireframe is the draft of your website layout. It’s supposed to help you decide on positioning key elements and focal points like navigation bars, content sections, and call-to-action buttons.
It should also help you establish the basic logic of your site and design a site journey map.
4. Information architecture
The most important step in learning how to design a website layout is organizing information in a user-friendly way. This is also called information architecture, and is a part of a website designer’s scope of service.
As the website owner you’re in charge of actually creating content. However, experienced web designers understand web users much better than you do. For example, they might suggest that some bits of information would be better presented as an infographic. Or they could advise on adding interactive elements such as motion design to help users find and absorb information more quickly.
5. Create the layout
Using a web design software of your choice, you’re now able to create your website layout. Create all the pages and add your content (images, text, videos, buttons, etc.)
Once you’ve added the content, you should divide the web page layout into sections (header, body, footer). Use appropriate heading and font sizes to draw attention to the most important information. We’ll discuss some of the most popular website layouts below to help you get an idea of what might the right one for your business.
Don’t forget to use colors and web fonts that align with your brand identity.
6. Navigation design
Once you have the layout for all the pages, you can connect them all in one intuitive and ebay-to-use navigation menu.
If you have a complex site, consider using breadcrumbs. These are navigational aids that help users understand where they are in the overall website.
For example, this could mean displaying filters used to search for products. Or, they could include information about the exact location of the page. In this example from Hubspot, you can see how a specific article is categorized, i.e. how you could get to this page from the knowledge base homepage.
7. Iterate and test
At the end of the day, your website is only as successful as its performance results (whether it’s time spent on a site, ranking, or conversions).
So, once you create a website layout, you’ll need to test it with real users. It’s best to gather feedback from real users, although you can also pay certain professionals to test out your site and decide if the layout works.
10 popular types of website layout
Now that you have all the necessary theoretical knowledge, it’s time to be a little more practical. Let’s look at some of the most important types of layouts, with stunning real-life examples to learn from.
1. Zig-zag layout
The name of this layout suggests the way our eyes move across the web page. Starting from the top left, moving onto top right, then down diagonally to finish in the bottom right corner (shape of a letter Z).
It’s a great landing page web layout, as it means users are lead through a logical sequence of design elements, usually ensign with a CTA button.
For example, we use this layout on our own homepage. This is one of the best website layouts for SaaS websites, as it allows users to understand what the product/service is about and how to use it.
2. Card-based layout
A card-layout means grouping your content/design elements into cards (rectangular shapes). It’s a very popular type of layout for online stores or portfolio websites, as it allows you to display multiple products or elements in a user-friendly way.
It’s particularly popular with makeup brands, since they usually have an array of products. Glossier is just one of many website layout examples that follows this structure.
3. Asymmetrical layout
Do you like breaking rules? Then a website layout where “everything goes” might be the right choice for your professional website.
If you’re wondering “can you copy a website layout” things may be a little more complicated with this type of layout. The reason for it is that each asymmetrical layout is different and unique. Sometimes these websites intentionally look messy and out there. But an asymmetrical layout can also mean just a slight bending of the rules.
NewFlight is a film and digital agency that uses asymmetry in their web design very effectively. All the proportions of split-screens and grids are just a little bit off to allow for a more dynamic visual experience.
4. Full-page layout
This is a type of minimalist layout that you don’t see that often nowadays. But if done well, a full-page layout can be truly effective.
Just like the name suggests, this layout means packing all the information in one singe plage view (without needing to scroll).
This is one of my favorite website layout examples, from a web and design agency called Curious & Company.
From their home page, to About Us and Services pages, each one is presented in a full-page view. However thanks to truly creative motion design they are able to provide all the necessary information and keep users highly engaged!
5. Parallax layout
Parallax effect is a popular website design technique. It means creating an illusion of depth by moving different layers of the website at different speeds. This technique adds a dynamic and engaging element to the design.
If you opt for this type of layout/website design make sure to hire a professional web designer and developer who can ensure everything is optimized and runs smoothly.
If you’re a car fanatic (and even if you’re not), I recommend checking out the PORSCHEvolution website.It’s a great example of using parallax effect to create a fun and engaging website that shows you the history of Porsche’s iconic cars.
This website also makes it very easy to scroll through thanks to a fixed sidebar. That way users can enjoy the full experience and travel through decades of evolution from the 1930s onwards. Or they can click and jump through any decade they want.
6. Magazine layout
This type of layout is essentially a mix of other types (e.g. cards, single-colum and zig-zag). As the name suggests, you’ll often see it with publication websites or blogs.
Marie Claire’s homepage combines sections for a full-screen view (featured post) and groups of cards around a similar topic. There is also a section with a split-screen layout.
7. Single-column layout
This type of website layout is probably the most common with a majority of business websites. It’s very simple (all the content is arranged in a single column), but can be very effective
The use of white space is especially vital here, to break up the content and ensure the experience is not monotonous for the user.
It’s also an ideal website layout for blogs, as it mimics the experience of reading on paper. That’s why big blogs like Medium always employ this website layout.
8. F-pattern layout
Like zig-zag, this layout is focused on how users consume web content. They start by reading horizontally from left to right, and then move onto scanning the website vertically (scrolling down). They finish with taking in short bits of information (the smaller dash on the letter F).
It’s another type of layout commonly used for blogs and publication sites (or any text-heavy site for that matter).
9. Split-screen layout
If you want to hone in two major points about your business, this is the type of web design layout to go for.
A split-screen layout means having two distinct sections in full-view. It’s often a combination of text and an image, but there are also other approaches you can use.
Engine Themes is a web design and development agency, and thanks to a split-screen layout, it’s immediately obvious that these are the two types of service they offer. They made the site extra special and engaging, by adding an interactive element.
10. Hero layout
Last, but not least is a common type of layout for SaaS businesses or product landing pages. It usually features a hero image (or full-screen photo), followed by content arranged in a zig-zag or similar way.
It’s the best layout to use to help you highlight your unique selling point or value proposition. Since large images can be overwhelming, it’s very important to use plenty of negative space in the rest of the website to achieve visual balance.
Luna.io has a striking hero image that helps to illustrate their service (they bring tech solutions to optical businesses and medical professionals). The human face is actually always a good way to grab the viewer's attention, but don’t use stock photos as is.
Instead, add visual elements like frames, lines, etc. to make sure the photos fit your brand identity.
Further reading on web design
We hope this provides you with some of the most important information on how to design a website layout. Remember that choosing the right type of layout will highly depend on your content and the type of business.
Having lived and studied in London and Berlin, I'm back in native Serbia, working remotely and writing short stories and plays in my free time. With previous experience in the nonprofit sector, I'm currently writing about the universal language of good graphic design. I make mix CDs and my playlists are almost exclusively 1960s.