There are many different Online Games Portals out there these days, each targeting different user groups like for example the casual or the MMO player but they all seem to follow the same design rules. There is a reason for that and so I decided to point out the most generic game portal design I can come up with and also to give some hints on why they all look that way. In this process I also created a pattern that applies to almost every big game portal site I know of (more or less).
First you should ask yourself, what a game-portal designers goals would be. As he will probably spend money to get traffic to his site by placing ad-campaigns or other promotions, he will try to make sure that the user is very likely going to register on his portal. To achieve this goal, he needs a layout which does not confuse the user and gives a clear and structured first impression. The potential new user need to get through the registration process (which often is kind of annoying), so he needs to get that new users interest on one of the sites ‘best’ games. The best game is not necessarily the game with the most users or the game that got the best reviews. For the game portal operator, the best game is the game that promises to get the most revenue out of that user. If the user finds something which promises to be a good game for him, he is likely to take the registration hurdle. Once the user has registered, the next step is to convert him into an active user. So these are the main goals of the portals frontpage:
- Give the user a reason to register at your portal
- Get the user to choose the ‘best’ game on your portal
The basic parts of a game portal design is almost always cut into 4 main areas. The first area is the one that contains the Logo and the Login-Form, followed by the main menu of the portal page. Below the menu there is almost always an eye-catching presentation of the top-X most popular games. Next up is the area that contains the complete game list, often filled up with a small news-ticker section to the right.
There are a few obvious reasons for this design which should be familiar to anyone who has done webdesign. First, according to statistics, the most used screen resolution still is 1024×768. So the most important things must fit into this size. This would be the Logo+Login area, the menu and the top-games. If a user with that screen resolution visits the portal, it will see all the important parts instantly. Second, it uses a few points of the eye-tracking study which is summed up very well here
- The Top-Left is the most important part of your homepage
- Headlines are more important then pictures
- Navigation at the top of the page works best
- Multimedia works better than text for unfamiliar or conceptual information
almost every visitor will scan this area first, so to make sure the user gets to know the portals name it is put here
this is a very important point, it states that it does not work to just put the logo on the Top-Left, it needs to be the full written name.
this is why no portal (that I know of) has the navigation at the side of the page
so the best way to present your games would be in a carousel that rotates your top X games every few seconds
Here are a few examples of game portals designs.
- MMOGame (Gameforge)