Build Web Pages from the Top Left Corner Down
There are two important reasons to build your website from the top left hand corner down.
The first one is that this is the way people (at least in the western world) read pages. They tend to begin at the top and read towards the bottom. And they tend to look at the left column before they look at the right. This is why your web pages should contain the most important headlines and descriptive information near the top.
Some designers fall into the habit of creating a standard "image oriented" header to appear on all the pages within a site, in order to give it a consistent look.
The problem with this is that it wastes the most important web page real estate on non-specific material.
You really want each page to have its own focus, and the best way to do this is to create distinctive information at the top of each page. If you must use a standard header you may consider using a graphic with some technique for customizing the text for each unique page -- for instance by leaving a spot for a unique headline.
The second reason is equally important. The Search Engines read your pages from the top left down -- since this is the way the code usually appears in your html documents. The Search Engines look for h1 tags near the top in order to determine what the page is about. Then they look for keywords -- especially in the top portion of the page in order to reinforce their conclusions about the subject matter of the specific page.
In other words, you should use the top portion of each page to focus on those things that tell the Search Engines what each page is about. The most important components are:
- the "title" tag (the page title that shows up in the title bar of the browser)
- the major headlines h1 and h2
- the first few paragraphs of text
- the names of graphics and the "alt" tags of graphics near the top of the page
- outbound link text