11 Website Layout Ideas for Efficient Design [+ Amazing Examples]
The difference between a good website and a brilliant one
Content is the essence of your website and what will ultimately lead to its success. However, people are visual creatures, and in order for your visitors to even give your content a chance, you need to make sure your design is impeccable. Great design doesn’t just mean visually appealing pages with beautiful imagery and fonts. It means all of this is presented in the most efficient, useful, and intuitive way on the website. This depends on what’s left when you strip a beautiful page from all its imagery, colors, and fonts. And that is why today we’ll go through some amazing website layout ideas.
Website Layout Ideas: Overview
- What is a website layout?
- Full-screen layouts
- Hero Layouts
- Single column layouts
- Split-screen layouts
- Cards grid layouts
- Boxes layouts
- Z-pattern layouts
- F-pattern layouts
- Magazine layouts
- Asymmetrical layouts
- Layouts with fixed sidebars
What is a website layout?
The skeleton, or structure of your website is what makes the difference between a beautiful but inefficient website and a brilliant one. In short, the website layout. This is the framework that structures information; defines content hierarchy, and provides a clear path for navigation.
And here comes the most important factor that every designer takes into consideration when planning the layout. Website layouts navigate how the viewers should read a website. If the visual hierarchy doesn’t correspond with the natural movement of the human eye, it’s more likely for the viewer to have a poor experience or get confused.
Therefore, to call a website layout intuitive, means that its composition follows the natural eye movement patterns.
How does the eye process visual information?
The human eye follows patterns naturally so when a viewer is drawn to a certain point of interest, this happens automatically. These natural tendencies lead us to perceive information in a certain way and rank it by importance.
Thanks to technology, things such as eye-tracking and visual engagement analysis exist to understand user behavior and tendencies. Here are some of the most useful findings when it comes to how people look at websites.
Upper Left Corner
The eye scans content starting from the upper left corner and moves down and right from there. In short, the triangular area in the upper left corner gets the viewer’s attention first. Furthermore, after first focusing on the top left corner, the eyes move through when looking at content, following a z-pattern.
In short, this pattern traces the route of the eye when the viewer reads. The eye goes left to right, forming an imaginary horizontal line. Then goes top to bottom, an imaginary diagonal line. This route forms a zig-zag shape.
Another natural pattern that human eyes follow, especially in a text-heavy environment, is an F-pattern. This is why most websites feature the most important element at the top of the page and the menu at the top horizontal or left vertical part of the layout.
Above the fold area
When it comes to natural behavior, viewers will focus on the content above the fold. Although they do like to scroll, the most popular websites feature their most important content in this area and guide their viewers to scroll down.
The left side automatically gets more attention than the right as most people read from left to right.
Large elements instantly dominate the layout and we go straight to view them first. This includes large images and dominant headlines.
Empty space instantly puts focus on elements. The visual force of an element placed in a section with the largest negative space is the strongest.
Some visual elements have a stronger visual force and draw the eye’s attention. This concept is called visual weight. The main visual weight factors are color, contrast, lightness, size, density, and complexity. For example, larger objects appear heavier than smaller objects; denser objects appear heavier than less dense, more dispersed objects, etc.
With that being said, let’s go straight to some website layout ideas with real-life examples.
1. Full-Screen Layout
We’ll start with one of the most popular choices for modern websites. When a layout is full-screen, it means it fits on a single screen without a scrollbar. This means, the viewer might still need to scroll in order to reveal the whole story, especially with websites that have animations on scroll, but there is no scrollbar. Below you’ll see three amazing examples of websites with full-screen layouts in the wild. They all have very powerful imagery and astounding animations.
2. Hero Layout
This type of layout has its name from the hero image that it centers around. The layout itself uses large hero images with text overlays and these are the elements that dominate the entire layout. As real-life examples, we can point out Apple’s landing pages for flagship products like iPad Pro and iPhone 12.
3. Single Column Layout
Another extremely popular choice for modern websites. Single column layouts have the advantage of allowing viewers to focus on the content without the possibility of distractions. It’s a great choice for blogs and newsfeeds with endless scrolling. Another benefit to single columns is the layout keeps the design consistent across mobile devices.
4. Split-Screen Layout
When the screen splits horizontally, vertically, or both, we have a split-screen layout. Since visually, the design invites its viewers to focus on both sides of the screen, these websites keep their content to a minimum. Although split-screen websites are very effective and attractive in terms of aesthetics, there is another great use that works perfectly with that layout. This is when the website gives the viewers two choices. For example, the left screen will show one side of the business (design services), while the right- another (front-end developments services).
5. Cards Grid Layout
Cards are a great way to contain a lot of information in an organized and easy-to-process way. The grid of cards is a type of layout that contains these cards that differ in size, spacing, style, and number or arrangement. This type of layout works best in responsive design. Below you will see Dribble, Pinterest, and IMDB as great examples for grids of cards.
6. Boxes Layout
This type of modern layout is preferable for blogs, portfolios, and corporate websites due to its versatility and clean look. The boxes layouts usually have a header-width box on top of the other two.
7. Z-pattern Layout
Just like the z-pattern that comes naturally for the human eye when the viewer reads a page, the Z-shape design creates a route from top left to top right, then diagonally to bottom left, and then to bottom right. And that’s the main idea of this layout, to create a route that leads the viewer to a conclusion, a goal. This goal is usually signing up for services, subscribing and etc.
8. F-pattern Layout
Here we have the most common and pure classic type of website layout. Being another layout that follows natural human eye patterns, the F-shape (or E-shape) pattern allows viewers to scan in two horizontal lines before checking the right side for more info. This layout is ideal for data-heavy websites that aim to provide different options for viewers to click on. The trick here is for you to prioritize your info and include the most valuable elements first.
9. Magazine Layout
As you already guessed, the magazine layout is a preferable option for magazine and news websites that contain a huge number of different stories and elements. It gets its inspiration from newspapers’ print layouts and the way they masterfully combine headlines, images, and copy to attract readers. Although copy-centric and tex-heavy, newspaper websites with such layouts are very engaging and easy to scan.
10. Asymmetrical Layout
Asymmetry adds dynamics to the layout and serves to give focus to a specific part of interest. With asymmetry and high contrast, the designer not only adds depth to the composition but highlights a particular element in a way that the viewer is instantly drawn to it. The key here is to have less content a lot of space for the elements to breathe. Now let’s see some examples of asymmetric layouts in the wild.
The last type of website composition is the layout with a fixed sidebar. Usually, this means the menu options are placed in a vertical column on either the left or the right part of the website and are constantly visible so the viewer could access the navigation any time. Layouts with fixed sidebars work best with fewer navigation options.
These were the most common and effective website layouts in all their glory. Depending on the content, each composition can become the winning structure that makes the difference between a beautiful but inefficient website and a brilliant one.
I hope you enjoyed these website layout ideas and got inspired for your next project. In the meantime, why not check for more related insights on web development and web design? Here are few ideas you might be interested in: