We strongly recommend following the proven industry framework, which has been established over the last five years by the big and small publishers who have moved online.
For example, if you take a look at some of the most read websites on the internet such as the BBC (www.bbc.com), the Financial Times (www.ft.com), The Economist (www.economist.com) and the Wall Street Journal (www.wsj.com), you will see a common structure and page layout.
Don’t try to reinvent the online publishing market …. benefit from others' hard-earned experience.
Occasionally, I see a subscription website that sticks the main menu down the right hand side of the page, rather than the standard left navigation column. Why are they making it hard for their readers?
With print newspapers and magazines, there are basic elements that people have become used to and comfortable with.
Websites are the same.
These elements include:
  • Masthead across the top – this is where the logo goes and usually imagery that supports the subject matter on the website.
  • Primary navigation bar down the left hand side – this navigation bar should be constant across the whole website. It should list all the main categories of the website, so users can find their way around from every page.
  • Secondary navigation bar down the right hand side on the home page – this navigation bar tends only to appear on the public home page, the member home page and the category home pages.
  • Time and date – right hand side under the masthead.
  • Bottom menu bar – This tends to contain links to terms and conditions, privacy statement, sitemap, etc.
  • The Central Panel contains the description of the page or an article, or a list of articles to link to.
  • Search top right on every page – this is the search box used to search the content on the website.
The layout will be the same for the Public Home Page, the Member Home Page and the Category Home Pages.
For pages that contain articles or a list of content, you need as much space as possible, so usually the Right Navigation Panel is dropped to increase the Central Content Area for the article's text.
This website uses this structure.