I recently stumbled across an interesting site. It’s not so much the content I want you to look at – although I enjoyed the site even though my Italian is a little rusty, and it’s over 10 years since I lived in Copenhagen! – but rather the layout.
And yes, there are a lot of ‘portal’ sites out there, but I chose one that isn’t in English so that you can focus on the layout not the content 😉
The site is at http://www.italiensk.info/. I love the way it mimics a newspaper layout – since the blog is dedicated to news stories, it’s a great layout to use. But the other thing about this layout is that of course it allows you to see the headings of lots of posts at a glance. It’s made me think about this blog (though it won’t be going tabloid style just yet).
It’s well known to web designers that a typical visitor to a site will look at the first screen (not page) of a site and decide whether or not to continue reading. Now, think about the way most web sites are laid out: a huge banner at the top proudly showing the world little more than your site name. Then a menu bar. Then a big heading, then finally some text. You’re lucky if you can see a heading and a line or two of content – especially on older (lower resolution) monitors.
There’s only so much a web designer can do to get round that. On my site, for example, the banners also display testimonials. The menu along the top is kept small by using sub menus. Modules down the right give the reader easy access to the sign-up area for downloading my report. There’s even a button that
tells invites the reader to ‘read more’. The layout of the blog is very much the same. They’re by no means ‘best in class’, but they do the job (you’re still reading this post aren’t you? Still visiting the site every so often? What do you mean you’re not??? Click on www.robcuesta.com right now and go look! And while you’re there create an account and download the special report…).
So, take a look at your own website and blog. Just open up a browser window and DON’T scroll anywhere just yet: look at the opening screen. It’s no different from somebody standing in the doorway of your office or shop and looking in. What’s the first thing your eye is drawn to? Is it what you want a visitor to look at? Where do your eyes go next? Is the over all effect aligned with your personal brand? Can a visitor find out about you easily? If they are here for something specific, how easily can they find it without having to search too hard?
You probably don’t need to make too many radical changes to your site, but a few tweaks will help you to get your site truly on-brand.