Optimising Page Layout Design to Improve Your Website’s Front-End Performance
Your website’s performance is a massive part of your web presence for two reasons.
First, from the user side, there’s nothing worse than clicking a website’s link from the search results page and waiting as it takes forever to load.
A study by Portent discovered that website conversion rates drop by an average of 4.42% for every second of loading time within the first 5 seconds.
The second reason, and an even more crucial one, is that search engines take site performance into account when determining search result rankings, especially on mobile.
Every website owner knows that your showing in SERP is a significant factor in your online success.
Optimising your web page layout is a critical part of achieving better performance.
Here are some page layout design best practices according to web development company Elementor that you can use to boost your page’s loading speed right now.
Headers are the first element that a visitor views on your website. It’s also the first element that gets loaded when a user clicks onto your page. Typically, headers contain company logos, a header menu, and contact information.
Most websites use at least 5-6 elements when designing headers. These include an image widget, a text box, a menu widget, and a contact information text box with an icon. All of these elements use the valuable time when loading and can decrease your page’s loading speed.
Optimising your header is as simple as consolidating all of these elements into as few widgets as possible. For instance, you can include text within your logo to remove the need for a text box next to an image. Choosing a single widget to display the menu headers is also good practice.
When designing the footer, use a widget that helps you dynamically update the copyright date for your website. Elementor recommends avoiding using an image for the copyright button instead of using Ctrl+Alt+C on a PC or Option+G on a Mac to type the copyright symbol.
Lastly, make sure your headers and footers are responsive and fit well with multiple platforms. When making a website’s design compatible with mobile platforms, design elements must be shifted and modified. Change as little as possible and take responsiveness into account when designing your web page. The less you have to change, the faster your webpage will load.
A webpage contains many sections with different objectives. For instance, you might have a CTA section with a different purpose from a customer testimonials section. From a page loading perspective, all of these sections require different code sets to be launched repeatedly.
Consolidating all of your sections into a single one eliminates the need to relaunch repetitive code pieces, reducing the page loading time. According to Elementor, optimising the asset loading features of your page like this has a significant effect on performance and rankings. Search engines take loading speed into account in their algorithms, and your SEO efforts will receive a boost as well.
Another way of optimising your on-page assets is to reduce the number of columns you use to house text or images. Instead of using multiple columns, create a single column and play around with the alignment and padding options to achieve similar effects.
Optimising images is also a significant part of improving page performance. While shrinking your images to optimal sizes is necessary, don’t forget to include relevant alt text descriptions for them. This allows users with screen readers to identify on-page elements. In addition, alt-text also helps your SEO rankings since search algorithms use it to crawl your website more easily.
Review the links on your page regularly and make sure none of them are dead. Ensure any text set against a background image is readable. While the readable text doesn’t impact page speed, it will influence how a user views your website. Unreadable text will increase the bounce rate and drop your website’s position in search results.
Use Global Elements
A common mistake website designers make is individually styling text and header elements on a page. Most brands have a style library, and these elements end up looking the same on the page. Behind the scenes, though, all of these individual elements require code to be loaded, which takes time.
Global variables and elements help simplify this process. By defining global style elements and choosing them when designing individual page assets, designers can drastically cut loading speed. Global templates run on code that needs to be loaded once, and thus, page performance improves dramatically.
Improve the Hero Section
Non-readable content impacts your website performance scores and repels your visitors. So, ensure your hero texts are readable and quickly noticeable, especially when they have a background image. To do that, you must establish a balanced contrast between your text and the background.
If you have a colourful background, you can improve your hero text’s clarity and readability with Elementor’s Text Shadow feature. This makes the content stand out visibly from the background image. Another technique is leveraging overlays. When applying this setting, explore the opacity until you achieve your preferred result.
You can also enhance your hero section by opting for a hero image over carousels, sliders, and slideshows. This is because the latter elements yield low conversion rates and slow down your loading speed. A usability study by the Nielsen Norman Group showed that visitors ignore carousels, and a test on the Notre Dame University website revealed that only 1% of the users clicked the first slide. The remaining slides got even fewer clicks.
Hero images have the opposite positive effects. They generate more conversions and don’t bog down your site. That said, strategically position your hero image with a compelling CTA. However, if you must use carousel images, consolidate them into one section only (as discussed earlier) by creating a new section and adjusting the applicable settings.
Use Lazy Loading for Videos and Images
To improve your loading time, especially when you have videos on your site, use the Lazy Load technique. It replaces the video embed code with a static image, so the media content only loads when your visitor clicks on it.
Lazy loading also works when you have several images on your site (which is likely). Remember that images can be notorious for slow website speeds and delaying the loading of other content. The more pictures you have, the greater their competition is to be downloaded.
With lazy loading, you can initially provide the images from the top parts of your webpage. Lazy loading only begins fetching the remaining visuals as your visitor scrolls down and nears the portions with more images.
Leverage White or Negative Space
Cramming too many elements on a webpage — even if they are well-aligned and follow the rule of thirds — ruins the layout’s composition. Newbie designers often make the mistake of stuffing content into every bit of space and filling every gap. However, this is not the best practice to follow. You should give your page enough visual breathing room by putting plenty of negative or white space — the distance between elements in a composition.
User experience statistics reveal that using white space correctly boosts your page’s readability by 20%. Because you give enough resting space for your visitors’ eyes, you make it easy for them to continue reading through your text and consuming your visual content. It also makes your webpage look clean, neat, and elegant. All this increases your customer interaction and conversion opportunities.
The most effective application for white space is when you have a defined structure joining the elements together (such as in a grid). Used randomly, though, negative space can risk making the page components feel disconnected.
Additionally, white space is best placed around your webpage’s corners (or margins) and the edges of graphic design and text elements. This prevents the negative space from getting trapped right at the centre.
Increasing the letter, line, and paragraph spacing also helps enhance your page layout design, making it feel balanced and composed.
Apply Visual Hierarchy
Visual hierarchy has a crucial role in all forms of graphic design. The principle here is that elements should visually stick out according to their degree of importance to your page layout design. The most crucial part must be the most visible, and the least important content becomes the most inconspicuous.
Additionally, visual hierarchy enables your visitors to understand your page’s informational structure by its layout. Titles must appear like titles, secondary texts should look like it, and headings should be more emphasised than body text. This then helps users make sense of your design, find what they’re looking for, and focus on what you want them to do (i.e., your CTAs).
How can you demonstrate your content’s hierarchy in your webpage? One is by making the more significant elements bigger and bolder. Keep in mind that human eyes naturally gravitate toward visually weighty, contrasted figures. This draws visitors to see the most crucial components first. On the other hand, use tiny, lightweight fonts for texts that aren’t huge when disregarded. This indicates their being the least important object on the page.
Spatial positioning through negative space and strategic placements can also communicate hierarchy. By separating a specific element from the others, you emphasise its importance and direct visitors’ immediate attention toward it. For instance, you can put your sale announcement headline on the almost empty left margin across your hero image and the less relevant details a little below the main text.
Listed below are the techniques for establishing visual hierarchy on your webpage:
- Upper-left corner placement
- Contrasting background and foreground colours (e.g., white text on a black background)
- Contrasting fonts
- White space
- Positioning, alignment, and indenting (indented objects fall under the elements above them)
- Graphics (grouping elements together in boxes, lines, coloured bars, etc.)
Clarify Your Visual Flow
Visual flow refers to the tracks your visitors’ eyes usually follow when scanning your webpage. It closely relates to visual hierarchy, establishing focal points for emphasising and drawing attention to essential elements. However, visual flow uses those points to guide users’ eyes from the most significant object to the least. As the page designer, you must command the visual flow and enable users to go with it in your intended sequence (more or less).
Focal points in a visual flow also refer to the areas in a webpage that your sights can’t resist going to. You usually follow them from the boldest to the weakest. Exceptional, high-performing web pages have only a few of these spots. Note that putting too many focal points can reduce an element’s significance. To set up these points, you can use similar properties and techniques as those in a visual hierarchy:
- Converging lines
- Spots with unique, captivating colours
- High contrast
- Negative space
- Large, thick fonts
- Hard edges, etc.
Designers usually harness these attributes to make their titles, essential sections of images and text, and logos the focal points in a webpage.
However, when setting up your visual flow, you’ll notice that various factors sometimes conflict with each other. One example is the inclination to look from top to bottom and left to right. With this pattern on monotonous or minimalist pages, you can keep your visitors’ concentration. But for more creative pages, many visual core points can distract visitors from the typical progression when scanning pages. So be strategic when developing your visual direction.
Another thing to note, though, is that meaning and context can influence the visual flow. After all, audiences can still choose to zero in on what they’re looking for or what they think are the significant elements. Their perceived meaning of the content on your page layout design can thus change the points they set their sights on and the paths their eyes follow.
More Than an Asset
Your website is much more than a digital asset. It’s your business card, storefront, and portfolio all rolled into one. Ensuring that it performs well is imperative, and changing your page layout design and optimising visual elements is the best way to ensure this happens.
Use these eight tips to optimise your page designs, and you’ll notice a vast improvement in the way your page loads.