Most modern websites use content management systems like Joomla or WordPress, where in the past each page was designed and built individually. When using a system like this, the design and structure of the site are held together with a template. This helps to keep all design elements consistent throughout the site.
Website templates work like skins over the code of your site’s content management system. They essentially recognise sections of code and apply preset design rules over them to colour them, space them and add pictures. Most websites are built with 3 or 4 major sections that the templates are applied to – header, body (main section), footer and sometimes a sidebar.
The Header section of a website usually includes the business’ logo, a menu for the website, social media icons and perhaps a search bar. It is best to keep the Header of your website quite clear and uncluttered. This helps your visitors navigate your site easily and quickly to find what they need.
The main section of your site or “Body” contains the bulk of the content of the page. This includes text, images, videos etc. Most often, this is the most flexible section of a theme. You’ll be able to create different columns for your text, place pictures however you’d like and anything else you can think of. Depending on the size of this section, the rest of the site usually adapts its height to fit it all in nicely.
To the left, right or even both sides of the body sits the sidebar. This is usually a helper for the Header. It contains additional navigation beyond the main menu, expanded social media details and/or updates, advertising and whatever else the website needs to function well for the user.
Finally, at the bottom of most websites you will usually find a footer. The footer is the least explored area of a website but is important nonetheless. The footer is an opportunity to outline what the site is about in a couple of sentences. Most webmasters also include a mirror of the menu in the header, more social media information and perhaps a picture or two.
There are obviously exceptions to the above structural rules rule. Many sites like to present their information in different ways to hold the attention of their visitors and be different. This especially applies to sites for bands, luxury brands or highly creative businesses.
Until our devices change drastically and the way we explore the web changes, websites will most likely stay within the same above structure. Having your website organized into these sections will help your visitors explore the site easily and make sure that all of your information gets the best chance of being seen and read.