What Site Layout Should You Use?


WordPress offers two main layout formats for sites:

  • A static main page which never changes unless you specifically decide it should
  • Your latest blog posts (excerpts or in their entirety) so they move off it as though they were on a conveyor belt

Which of those layouts you should use is a matter of personal choice and how you want your site to look.

The search engines don’t return whole sites when they give you the search results, they give you a list of possible pages (sometimes including videos and documents) that you can choose from. Plus the inevitable dose of adverts and sometimes a map if their algorithm thinks you’re looking for something in a local area.

Unless you’ve typed or copied the address of a website into your browser or phone, it’s rare to go through a website in anything close to linear fashion. But in the back of our minds we still treat it like a book or a movie, where you’d probnbly go through in logical order.

The web is different.

Sure, there are plugins that try to get people to explore the site more. I’ve moved across from YARRP to Contextual Related Posts on several of my sites as I find it gives me a bit more control over the process but either of those work nicely. And hyperlinks inside the pages are even better for encouraging people to explore the site further – Wikipedia has trained people to do that and most of the time they’re happy to explore if something catches their eye.

Lots of news and kind-of news sites split posts up into an irritatingly high number of pages so that the list of 15 items you thought you’d clicked to is spread over at least 15 pages.

The logic is that they charge their advertisers per advert impression and that method obviously massively increases the number of ad impressions shown. Good news if you’re on the receiving end of the advertiser’s money, not such good news if you’re the one paying it out.

And one of the reasons banner impression prices have come down lots over the years. The other main reason being that people are much less inclined to click flashing banner ads. Assuming you’re not using an ad blocker, when was the last time you clicked on a banner ad? Always assuming you can remember.

Back to site layout:

Personally, I like it to be simple.

Some of my sites use a static front page, others use the conveyor belt system of extracts.

Some people selling links put the whole of each post up on the main page but still let it scroll away as new posts are added. I don’t suggest doing that as it gives Google an excuse to think you’ve got duplicate content on your site because the whole article is on the same site twice. If you’re paying for guest posts, that’s worth checking before you purchase.

For me, the less cluttered a site is, the better.

For a site like BuzzFeed the opposite seems to be true.

Ultimately, it’s personal choice.

Not every potential visitor will like every potential site layout.

But since my sites aim to give a mix of usable information and links to my own or other people’s products, I find the simple layout works nicely:

  • Read the information
  • Maybe click around the site
  • Hopefully click a link and make a purchase

That works for me and quite a lot of other people.

The beauty of WordPress is that you can play around with different designs independently of the site content. So you can experiment and find what works well for you.

But don’t let that be an excuse to procrastinate.