In the past, we’ve covered some of the best templates for entertainment sites, which really covers a fairly broad spectrum. “Entertainment” can refer to music services, concert and theater venues, event booking, and more. There may not be any sort of website more directly suited to the category though, than a gaming site.
The last few years have actually brought about significant developments on the indie design front within the world of gaming. That is to say, there are now more and more platforms that allow even relative amateurs to design their own video games across all different genres. This, coupled with the fact that most of us are turning to internet streaming and downloads for gaming anyway (as opposed to buying games on shelves) means sites showcasing playable games should be getting more and more common.
Designing a gaming site is a fairly unique challenge. Rather than luring visitors to buy products, make bookings, look at photos, read content, or anything else typical of a personal or small business website, you’re trying to get them to engage directly with the material right before their eyes. You want them to see games, want to play them, and stay put, which means it’s the responsibility of the design to make the games as appealing and approachable as can be.
A site can be organized in all sorts of ways to accomplish these goals, and so far as we know there isn’t a prevailing template used for gaming. However, some features do come to mind as wise inclusions. They won’t comprise your entire site, but they can certainly help in the development of a solid, appealing game site.
Split-Screen Design – This is something noted with regard to the “Connect” example on the aforementioned page on entertainment templates. The idea is to split screens between a main image and an explanation, which is ideal for showcasing games. Cover art can be displayed clearly along with a brief title and summary, and a “play” button.
Clear Cover Art – Going hand-in-hand with the idea of a split-screen feature, cover art should be cleanly, clearly displayed. You do not want to get into the habit of simply listing game titles or stashing them in menus. The arrangement of games at online slot arcade aggregators is a nice guide to work with here. Because most slots are more or less the same in terms of gameplay, the games rely significantly on their cover art to stand out. You can see clear displays of games such that they all feel different and unique (and in some cases alluring). Any game site covering any genre or spectrum of genres should strive for the same.
Hover Animation – In clearly displaying cover art, you also need to make it clear that the games are playable right where they are (if indeed that’s the point of your site). You don’t want site visitors to mistake a gaming site for a shop, or a reference or review hub. The easiest way to do this, aside from bold, visible “play” buttons, is to make sure there’s a noticeable effect when a cursor hovers over a game’s cover. This gives the visitor the impression he or she can click on the game, and this can of course lead to the game itself.
Category Menu – One can actually argue that Steam, one of the leading online platforms for game downloads, is somewhat poorly organized. There’s a little bit too much clutter, and it’s not always easy to see what your options are regarding any given download. With that said, the site does do a nice job of illustrating the value of a category menu, in that it hosts a staggering variety of games, but makes it easy enough to sort through different genres and styles. This may not be of much concern for a new or limited gaming site, but you should still consider a clear, drop-down menu from the beginning anyway, purely for convenience and organization.
Neutral Backgrounds – This is not a bad tip for virtually any type of personal or small business site, but with games in particular you don’t want the background to be too loud or distracting. This would take away from the idea of showcasing the cover art above all else. Sticking with a neutral background makes the things that matter pop.