Importance of website layout for user experience and engagement

You have a fantastic digital shop with many products to sell to your customers. But to ensure success, you need the right website layout to support all of this. It’s time to get inspired – take a look at some of the more common website layouts and some that are more unusual and perhaps surprising.

From single-column layout and featured image layout to more innovative layout examples, we have what you need to help you build a digital shop that engages your customers and boosts your brand.

Importance of website layout for user experience and engagement

A great website layout provides an enjoyable aesthetic for your web page, making a solid first impression on your visitors. While all this is true, it’s just scratching the surface. So, beyond giving your customers a good-looking web page to interact with, let’s see why the website layout is so important:

  • An intuitive website layout makes it easier for your customers to find what they need to take complete actions and make purchases more quickly.
  • User experience depends on the page’s layout, so designing a strong page will help you build a good reputation among your customers.
  • Page layout can also impact page loading speed and stability – two important SEO aspects for business sites.

Best practices for creating a website layout that’s visually appealing and easy to use

How do you craft a great web layout that supports the user? Here are a few best practices to bear in mind:

  • Make the design striking – but also simple. Don’t overwhelm your user.
  • Functionality must come first, so ensure it’s still easy for your visitors to use the page.
  • Remember, this means all your visitors – the design needs to be accessible and usable for everyone who visits your page, no matter their device, technical background, or ability level.

Last but not least – keep the layout and the design consistent across your product pages and other areas of your online presence.

Understanding user behavior and preferences when it comes to website layout

A good website layout supports the user as they engage with the page, considering their behaviors and preferences. Think about the user journey and what they try to achieve when visiting your page.

On a product page in an online store, they likely want to look at more information on the product or make a purchase. On a landing page, they may want to learn more after viewing an offer or deal on a marketing email or a social media post. On the home page, there may be a whole host of potential routes open to your user, so navigation to all of these areas of your site must be easy.

Types of website layouts

Let’s get into those website layout ideas that can add visual weight to your digital shop and make it shine. 

Before anything else, consider that the type of website layout you choose will depend largely on your industry, your brand, as well as the preferences and behaviors of your site visitors. Keep this in mind as you browse these different ideas below that will allow you to create interesting and engaging individual portfolio-like sites.

Single column layout

A single-column layout displays all visual elements in one vertical column on the page. Typically, this will be in the center of the page, but it may also be arranged to the left or the right, depending on your preference.

This is the typical method of displaying text-heavy web pages simply because it makes this text very easy to read. You may include one featured image, like an author’s headshot or a supporting picture. 

Variations of this layout design exist, such as the two-column layout, which is useful when you want to showcase visuals like quality images and videos along with key elements like text as equally and mutually important. It’s more engaging in the options for interactions it can offer, but it can also be riskier than the single-column layout in terms of the user’s attention if you don’t know how to present information.

Grid layout

A grid layout breaks the page into a series of squares arranged vertically and horizontally across the page in a checkerboard pattern. Each of the squares in the grid will hold a piece of content, an image, a video, a selection of buttons, or another feature of your site.

While the grid layout avoids the centralized format of single-column layouts, it maintains some form and structure. Design features are arranged neatly across the grid pattern, making navigation easy for all visitors to the site. Switching different elements can create a different effect without losing the page’s grid structure.

Grid layout designs can also have variations, such as a multi-column grid, and even a full-fledged grid system, combining different approaches.

Magazine layout

The magazine layout takes its name from the magazine spread it resembles. Text is wrapped around images of varying sizes to create a more fluid and relaxed visual than the grid layout. Website visitors follow a logical and intuitive path as they browse the content, broken up by images, buttons, and other features.

This layout is excellent for text-heavy, longer-form features with lots of active space, graphics, and images. Infographics and tables may also be helpful, visualizing the data contained in the text to improve the visitor’s experience as they interact with the page. It’s less suitable for bold, impactful homepage designs or pages with fewer text sections.

Full-screen layout

The full-screen layout is another example of a layout idea that reduces the amount of negative space, focusing instead on active space. The web design fits the entire page, filling the user’s whole window from top to bottom and from left to right. This makes it different from single-column layouts, which may have negative space on either side of the central text.

You may choose this page layout for an ecommerce or content category page. In other words, it is the right layout for a page with many different elements that the user must choose from. Spreading additional menu items or buttons across a wider area can support a better experience for the user as they browse.

Modular layout

Modular layouts can be several different layout types. For example, an asymmetrical layout can take the form of a modular grid layout. The defining characteristic is that page elements are placed within the layout modularly. They can be added and removed at will without affecting the overall operation of the page itself.

The modular layout type works well with businesses that need to make regular changes to their web content. It also supports teams using content management systems but may need to gain a background in coding themselves. Modules can be moved around to quickly create new page designs, making testing user responses to different elements easy. 

Asymmetrical layout and split-screen layout

An asymmetrical layout refers to the uneven weighting of elements on either side of the page’s central vertical line. You may create active space on one side of the page but contrast with negative or white space on the other. You may include different elements on each page, creating more visual weight on one side than the other.

Unbalanced doesn’t necessarily mean bad. You may choose an F-pattern layout, sometimes known as an F-shape layout. This takes advantage of common page scanning behavior when users access a website, with the the top line first and then going vertically downwards along the left-hand side of the page before scanning horizontally along another line on the top half. Arranging your page in such an easy-to-follow manner allows users to scan the information fast.

Alternatively, you may use a Z-pattern layout. This means arranging your content to draw the eye in a zigzag along the page. The user starts from the top line, follows the content from top-right to bottom-left, and then scans the bottom line.

Split-screen designs can also help. It’s called a split screen layout, because the website looks like a split screen, wherein there is a visible contrast between the two page halves. Such split-screen layouts are great for creating two drastically different variations with striking designs, but if you use them, make sure all your text and visual features are there and are functional.

Fixed layout

A fixed layout remains at the same width, no matter which device is used to access the page. The designer inputs a set width parameter used whenever the page is opened. On traditional web browsing devices like laptops or desktop computers, this should not be a problem. But on devices with smaller screens, it may cause the page to load incorrectly, with some horizontal scrolling needed to access all the content.

With mobile and tablet devices now commonly used to access online shops and other websites, traditional fixed layout approaches need a rethink. You can still use a fixed layout and preserve the integrity of your design elements, but you will need separate width parameters for desktop and mobile versions of your site.

Fluid layout

At first glance, the fluid layout seems the opposite of the fixed layout. It’s just a slight variation on the fixed version. With a fluid layout, you still set a width parameter, but this width is set according to percentages and ratios of screen size rather than pixels. So, if you view the website on a device with a smaller screen, the page will appear smaller to fit this screen.

Fluid layouts are more complex for designers and developers, so some still stick with a fixed layout. On the other hand, it is possible to keep some aspects of your page layout fixed while keeping other content fluid.

For example, you may choose a fixed sidebar navigation to not make users scroll horizontally in order to access this part of the page while applying fluid parameters to the main page content.

Responsive layout

The responsive layout idea is a continuation of the fluid layout concept. With a fluid layout, the structure of the page remains the same, but the sizing changes according to the screen dimensions. With a responsive layout, design elements can shift along with the page size as the layout changes to accommodate different screens.

Responsive layouts are more complex than both fixed and fluid layouts. However, this is the layout required to create a truly mobile-optimized page for your online shop. Not only will it be the right size for your user, but it will also feature navigation and design more suitable for the user’s device.

Parallax scrolling layout

The parallax scrolling option can help you to create interesting and unexpected layouts. This layout idea divides the foreground and the background into separate elements. During user interaction, these two elements scroll at different speeds so that the user might scroll through the foreground more quickly than the background or vice versa.

This creates a dynamic effect that could engage users as they are taken through the page layout design. However, it’s essential to ensure the design is manageable to the site visitors and to check that all the separate page elements remain visible and usable during scrolling.

Card-based layout

Imagine you have a collection of playing cards or trading cards, and you spread them out on the table in front of you. The table surface is now covered with rectangular shapes that fit neatly together to create an overall display. This is the principle behind the card-based layout. You can use this layout idea to display an image gallery or provide a comprehensive view of your available products.

Clicking each card can give the user more information or trigger another feature on your e-Commerce site – a product purchase button or a feedback form, for example. Card-based layouts may overlap with grid layouts and be modular, so each element can be removed, modified, and replaced as required.

Hero image layout

The banner at the top of the screen is the hero. So, a hero image layout places a large image, a full-screen photo or a different kind of visual focal point in this hero banner. This design will immediately draw attention to the top section of your web pages, where your main image, logo, introductory text, or menu buttons are. All of this is laid out in a large header width box.

Beneath this, you can provide further textual or visual information across a few smaller boxes. This is a versatile layout for business websites and is an effective way to reinforce your branding.

Tabbed layout

With a tabbed layout, you display the same navigation bar as you would on another website layout, but each navigation item opens as a tab within the main screen. This can be a good web design option for simple landing pages and other site areas with little textual or video information. More data-heavy sites may need to open these tabs as separate pages to ensure a streamlined experience for the user.

Web designers can use tabbed options to create minimalist layouts, keeping page elements hidden from view until the user needs to access them. 

Multi-page layout

Multi-page layouts are designed and organized differently across each separate page. For example, your homepage, about page, and ecommerce page will all have a distinct layout and open under separate web addresses.

This is the right website layout if you have several pages to display, each with its purpose and aim. While smaller businesses might find a single-page layout suitable, larger organizations need a multi-page format.

Infinite scroll layout

An infinite scroll layout gives the impression that the user is scrolling forever down the page. Social media applications like TikTok and Instagram keep serving users content via the algorithm, creating an infinite scroll. News websites may provide many stories and features for users to browse. These are examples of infinite scroll in action.

For your website, however, you will probably have a finite amount of contact. You can still use an infinite scroll, but it will loop around once the user reaches the bottom of the page, bringing them back to the top.

Choosing a color scheme and typography that complements your web pages

Choosing a color scheme and typography that complements your website layout

Different website layouts have their unique requirements when it comes to color schemes and typography. So, how do you make the right choices for your website design?

  • Incorporate elements of your brand to achieve consistency across all business areas.
  • Think about complex visual hierarchy – large-sized and brightly colored elements tend to create focal points, but some designs have a more complex visual scale.
  • Focus on usability and ensure all web page aspects are fully functional and accessible.
  • Test the colors and typography across different devices to ensure the layout remains stable and usable.

Take into account what works for you. For instance, if you know that leveraging social media links can bring you more leads and conversions, then the place you put them on your page doesn’t have to be the same as competitors who don’t focus on such channels.

The above guidelines simply provide you a frame of reference, but the final call is yours.

Tools and resources for creating and testing website layouts

If you come up with a great website layout idea, try creating it yourself. To do this, you’ll need the creation tools to do your layout ideas justice. On top of this, you’ll need testing tools and capabilities that put your layout through its paces.

Some tools for testing website layouts include:

There are many tools out there to help you create the best website layout for your site. However, getting expert assistance is also an option. Working with a web design partner will create a reliable, stable, and wholly unique web page layout. 
This secures your users’ experience through effective yet unexpected layouts with visual weight accentuating your business’ strengths. And that is one way you can set yourself apart from competitors.

Frequently asked questions

What are some common website layouts?

Very simple websites often use a single-page layout, but more complex sites require a multi-page system with featured images, hero banners, columns, or card/grid-based structures.

What is active and negative space?

Active space is what’s in use, containing text and images or other features. Meanwhile, negative space is left blank and sometimes called white space.

Is an asymmetrical web page layout bad?

Not at all. You can achieve great success with a well-structured asymmetrical website layout.