Top of the page (Header):
• Include a logo and or photo of your store. Make the logo/photo clickable back to your home page.
• In the top right corner of the page you need to include links to the most common things your visitors will look for. Normally this is your Contact Us, Directions to Our Store, Store hours. Other things that might be popular are Store Events, Contest Registration, Register to Win, Daily On-line Specials. Also note that you can and should change this set of links to match your advertising.
• With e-commerce sites you should also have a link to login to the customer account.
• You could have a main navigation menu in your header, but only if those menu items bring you to popular pages on your site or landing pages for subsections of your site.
Left side of page (Navigation)
• Don't go against the standard, put your website navigation on the left side of the website. That's where users expect to find it. If you put your navigation on the right site it forces your users to have to learn your site. Any required learning curve will increase the bounce rate on your website.
• Navigation links should be sectionalized. Group similar topic pages together and give them a heading. It's best to chunk them into groups of 4 links.
• Use the navigation area for advertising. This could be a daily special, a cal to action (like registering for a store event), an email newsletter signup. But don't put the ad in the middle of the navigation links, show it below the links. Be careful how you design the ad, don't make it look like a banner. Consumers have developed "Banner Blindness" in that they ignore anything that is in a self contained box.
• You can list logos of importance. PCI Compliance logo, Secure Certificate Logo... anything that will illustrate trust that the customer will recognize immediately.
Body of the page (Main content area)
• Build each page of your website so it makes sense for that exact content.
• Pages do not have to all look alike. But you should develop standards that are easy for your customers to recognize.
• Landing pages should have similar formats.
• Product catalog pages should have similar formats.
• Article pages should have similar formats.
• If you keep the formatting of your site consistent you will prevent disorientation and relearning.
• Use different layouts on special pages to call attention to the fact that they are special pages.
Right side of page
• You can define an area of the right side of the page for additional ads, calls to action, links to associated pages or other items related the main content.
• This is a good area to show products from your catalog. The products could be specific to match the content of that page, they could be random, or they could match the taste of the user if you are tracking that kind of stuff.
Bottom of the page (Footer)
• Logos of trade organization memberships.
• Store name, address, hours.
• Links to login to the customer account.
• Links to a contact & directions page. I suggest this to be a different link that that in the header. This contact & directions page should be lightweight and non graphical. Type out real directions to your store, rather than linking them to a mapping website. List your store hours, address and phone number. Why is this page so different? Pretend you are a customer walking around a shopping mall. Test your website from your cell phone and you will realize the reason this specific footer link is so important.
• Additional badges or logos as needed.
These are the basic ideas as of the date of this post. Perhaps the best way to layout a jewelry retail website will change in the future, but for now my research shows this.