Position Makes Everything
Have you seen this particular scene in a movie where a group of movers were carrying a large furniture or object that needed to placed somewhere however because of the undecisive family member, they end up moving from one area to the next?
That is exactly how a designer sometimes feel when designing a website. I was designing for a project and suddenly became indecisive over a content section and a Google Adsense ad. According to Google Adsense tips and the common human reading habit, the left side is where most humans concentrate on first when they’re doing some reading. Hence, making the left side one of the main spots for content.
But here’s the next problem, on my right is a huge chunk of paragraph text. Moving the chunk to the left is out of the idea since the homepage already has a chunk on the left side. If we also moved the chunk, then the ads will have to be placed on the right which would gain the least attention.
It’s clear that we don’t really have many options right now. We could choose to..
- Not add the Adsense or..
- Move the huge chunk to the right or..
- Convince the client to use a different ad format or..
- Just place the content and ad on the left or..
- Something else that you could think of.
As you can see, the positioning makes everything in a website. The placement of the announcements or even the search panel isn’t just a small thing.
Let’s take Amazon and Google for example. Amazon is an online retail store and a very successful one at that. Their goal was to create a very comfortable and friendly experience for shoppers online. If you recall it’s older layout, the search panel on the top left was highlighted as one of the more usable search controls for an online shop. Why?
First fact was because it was placed on the top left, anyone who visited would easily notice the search. Second fact is because when you used the search, there was a selected choice or selections for you to search. This made the search for goods to the online shopper much more user-friendly.
If we took a look at Google, their homepage is conquered by its centered search input field. What do you expect from a company who just wanted to prove themselves as one of the most usable search engine? When Google started their search engine, it was all about the search and what visitors wanted to search. It was like the search was calling out for you to type in something and have it a go.
But some have said Google’s homepage isn’t exactly user-friendly to everyone. Yes, that it might not be the most user-friendly because a little descriptive text could have solved usability issue but it could’ve also cluttered the homepage. Google’s approach of simplicity for a search engine was very much a competitor to AskJeeves rather than Yahoo! during the launch.
That’s why positioning is one of the factors that makes everything happen on the website. Once the website has figured out its goal or aim, it makes life easier for the website designer to make sure focus is paid to a certain area.
For example if I were to build a blog but still would like to highlight my works, I’d either put the most recent project on the left or at the top where everyone sees it first. That’s why if you looked at the Google Adsense ‘hotspots’ to place your ads, those are suggestions made based on human reactions.
So the next time you revamp or find a nice looking theme, ask yourself if that particular theme will work for your blog or website. This one of the lessons I learnt and always think about when helping clients with their website.
There’s a lot more to learn on good website design or development, some technical and theory, some even just common sense. Websites are made to be simple but the process goes a long way.
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