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Studies have shown that there is a science behind the layout of websites, advertisement, and other media like newspapers and magazine. If you hope to keep visitors coming to and staying at your website, it is important that the layout facilitates easy browsing and allows people to find what they are looking for. Layout is one of the most difficult categories to address because it is very subjective, but we will judge submitted sites on a basic outline of layout features and assign or subtract points as needed.

The following is a list of guidelines that we will use to judge your website for layout. Each piece of criteria is followed by a brief explanation as to why it is important for your site. Certain features may automatically gain or lose points for your overall score.

Are the elements of your page arranged in a logical order?

• If visitors can not determine where to click and what to read within the first few seconds at a site, they will likely leave and not return.
• Links and buttons should demonstrate clearly what is clickable. (+1 point)
• Navigation should be easy to find and easy to follow.
• It is helpful to have a page containing a site map with all relevant links for your site. This way, repeat customers can easily find what they are looking for. (+1 point)

Your layout should address how users browse websites

• Although you do not want every page to look the same, you should take what visitors expect to see at a website into consideration
• Using a visual hierarchy is one of the most important elements of website layout
• Visitors prefer to see persistant navigation, meaning that the relevant parts of your navigation should exist in the same format, in the same place, on each page of your website. (+1 point)
• In order to save your visitors any frustration, include a search feature on larger sites that have lots of pages (+1 point)

Clearly defined areas help users find their way around a website

• Using appropriate colored backgrounds will help divide your web into units of content (+1 point)
• Certain graphics and images can help tie together themes and draw then draw the eye down the page

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