Every web site has a number of common components that make up the different sections of the web site. Each of the common components is discussed below, along with their common positioning:
The company brand usually incorporates the logo and any strap-lines that are associated with the company. The company brand is generally located in the top left corner of the screen, although sometimes, elements of the brand will be spread right across the top header of the web page design.
A good searching component allows a user to find what they are looking for very quickly. Search components have become somewhat of a web site standard – especially within ecommerce web sites. A classic mistake is to have a great searching component, but not feature it on the homepage, e.g., link to the searching component from the homepage. When looking for a searching component many people look for a little ‘search’ box. When using a search component, make sure you allow people to type in a search query directly on your homepage.
The common content menu is the menu that contains links to all the pages within your site that are common across most web sites. Examples of these sort of pages are ‘about us’, ‘contact us’, ‘customer service’, etc. The common content is often featured either at the top of the screen (in the header of the web page design) or in the left or right column. Some sites use a split common content menu with parts of it located at the top in the header and the rest at the bottom in the footer.
Shopping cart components usually come in two different forms. Most ecommerce web sites will usually contain one or both forms. The first form is a full breakdown of the shopping cart that shows a list of all the individual items, along with subtotals, GST, shipping costs and so on.
The next form of shopping cart is called a mini shopping cart or shopping cart summary. The shopping cart summary informs the user of the number of items in the shopping cart and the total value of the items. Summary shopping carts are usually featured in the left or right columns of the web page design and remain available to the user throughout the buying process.
The product category menu lists all the product categories and sub-categories that are available on the web site. Product category menus usually appear in the left column of the web page design. Occasionally, people will locate their product category menu on the right-hand side. Usability studies have shown this to be confusing for many webs ite users.
Contact details are an extremely important part of a web site. Contact details are especially important for an Profile or Catalogue web site as they are the predominant way of providing your customer with the information they need in order to get in contact with you. Contact details are often located in very prominent positions – like at the top right-hand position of a web page design (within the header). Sometimes contact details are located on a separate web page.
The member login component allows a web site member or account customer to login to the web site. The member login component is very important for ecommerce web sites that have a large business-to-business user-base (wholesalers, distributors, etc) or work on a subscription-based business model. Member login components are often featured in the left or right hand columns of the web page design.
Subscription components are very important if your primary or secondary objective is getting your visitor to sign-up to a newsletter, or some other promotion that you are running. Subscription components on a web page design are generally designed to collect customer information – particularly email addresses. If your primary objective is a sign-up then the sign-up component will often be the main feature of the homepage. If it is a secondary objective (which is more common) then it will often be featured in the left or right-hand columns of the web page design.
The security badge is important for ecommerce web sites as it indicates to your visitors that you are running a secure web site and that you take security seriously. Security badges are generally featured in the footer, left or right-hand menus of the web page design.