In the early days of web design when HTML templates were sufficient it was easy to setup and design an industry accepted website. The work was largely done for you with a single frame housing a top navigation to direct your user around the site, a side bar and the main body content down the centre.
Things have (thankfully) moved on and the layout you give to your web page is a key element in creating a compelling user experience. For a period of time in the early naughties straight lines went out of fashion and having your site scrambled Picasso-esque was deemed ‘trendy’ and ‘innovative’. Again this has (thankfully) changed. The simplest way to design a website layout is to think like your user and put yourself in their position to make a site that is as easy as possible for them to use. More often than not this will entail a grid-layout, whereby your page’s elements are ordered in a grid fashion. This not only makes it easy to navigate it also makes it obvious as to the importance and relevance of the elements on the page.
Your layout needs to be fluid and responsive without being confusing. Order your content in regards to which sections are most important for your user and have this seamlessly flow from top to bottom of each page. Navigation should be clear and also fixed to every page so the user can quickly and easily locate where it is they need to click to go to their next desired page.
Consistency in your web design is of paramount importance which is why it is so crucial to get your layout established before you attempt to draft a design.