Web Design Best Practices: Oversized Layout

By July 28, 2011 CRO & UX No Comments

If your website doesn’t deliver, it’s on to the next one
Your website is one of the most credible and easily accessible representations of your organization or company. For many consumers, this is the biggest selling point and will determine whether or not you receive your visitors’ business. Designing LARGE seems to be a trend that’s catching on pretty quickly. Going large can be quite attractive and beneficial if it’s executed correctly, but it can get you in a heap of trouble if it isn’t. If your web designer isn’t designing correctly for the web, then it limits the potential impact you will have on your prospective clients.

When designers put together an oversized website, it’s typically because they are experimenting with something new. They feel like they’re being innovative by designing a site that is metaphorically explosive (well, that’s the idea behind it, anyway). In some cases it’s beneficial, but a lot of the time it’s done because designers get their ‘creative kicks’ out of it. Optimization is the largest part of creating a successful website. As awesome as the site may look, without optimization it can be worthless and a waste of money.

A popular way that designers are taking advantage of this is by implementing a quote, product screenshot, or a content carousel (that showcases services and/or achievements) in the header.  This is risky, as it will push your other valuable content underneath it, and possibly beneath the fold. This is going to have an immediate impact on your viewers and will determine whether or not your company’s services are suitable for them. The design and usability will influence them to inquire further, or it will turn them away—and potentially cost you revenue!

Generally speaking, when your website is too large, it can distract your viewers from the tasks they want to accomplish. It might be visually appealing, but more than likely, user needs were not taken into consideration when the site was built. Large tables flood your view and make other content less decipherable. It is also distracting, frustrating, and in special cases, infuriating. When your visitor wants to find out some information but can’t because it’s difficult to find, it hurts your organization or company. Large tables will visually mesh together and garble your message, and take away from the dominance that your calls-to-action are supposed to have. This, of course, assumes you want your message to be heard (or read, whatever…).

As designers, part of the way we determine a layout is by the content you have to offer. It’s great to have a lot of content to work with, but when you have too much with no place to put it, it can be a struggle to effectively implement. It ties into design and plays a major role in the effectiveness of your website. You want to make your message clear and lead visitors where you want them to go. If you don’t weed out unnecessary content, then it delays this process, and could possibly send your visitor searching for somebody else who might be able to help them.

Designing a website too large isn’t the only way to lose leads. Having a site that is too small or lacking in rich content puts you at a huge disadvantage to your competitors. Without any rewarding content, your organization or company loses credibility. If you don’t have enough copy or interesting visual imagery, there’s little you can do to keep the attention of a web user. If this is the case, they’re going to move (Jay-Z said it best) “on to the next one.”

The Fathom focus
Usability is Fathom’s main focus when it comes to design. Without this, the website will not produce the results that a business desires. Designing large, using too much body copy, or not having enough content can all contribute to the downfall of a website (and in extreme cases, the business.) With these visual elements in mind, we pinpoint any and all possible problems and issues that may cause future roadblocks. Not only are we concerned with producing results, but we also have an awesome web design staff with an amazing stylistic touch. Your website won’t just look great, it will perform well, too!

About Steve Kozak

Ensuring that Fathom’s brand is consistent and always future-focused - monitoring marketing trends and serving as the point-person for developing, implementing and executing marketing & creative initiatives and activities - Steve's objective is to empower brand champions that share and extend Fathom's reputation and goodwill far beyond the reach of our target customers and ideal clients.He has been a member of Fathom's creative team for almost eight years, serving as a motion graphic animator, Director of Video Production, agency Creative Director, and currently as Brand Manager. Steve is a graduate of Kent State University with a Bachelor's degree in Digital Media, and currently lives and operates in beautiful Cleveland, Ohio.

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