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Chances are, there’s been a time when you’ve clicked through endless links, scrolling page after page in a seemingly futile quest for the right information. This journey often ended with you exiting the website as empty-handed as when you started, right? To avoid falling into this trap, knowing the essential digital elements can completely transform your project’s digital presence.
Web design and page structure play a big role in encouraging users to click and scroll. But what if there was a blueprint to ensure that every single one of your web pages is visitor-friendly? Well, you’re in the right place, as today we’ll break down 19 essential elements of a successful website and share insider tips on how to use them properly.
Let’s start by defining what a webpage is, as it is not the same as a website. Simply put, it’s an individual page with specific URLs, different content, and unique images, where every element plays a crucial role in engaging the visitor. When talking about its structure, we’re addressing how all these pieces fit together to make something that’s good to look at and makes sense to use.
The organized webpage is the foundation of your online presence. It’s what guides your visitors through the content, like invisible signposts pointing to where they want to go. Without a well-thought-out structure, even the most visually stunning page can leave users lost and confused, resulting in a higher bounce rate and lower engagement.
A well-structured page leads users smoothly from beginning to end.
When it comes to designing a webpage, it’s all about picking the right elements. Interactive pop-ups, hidden buttons, flashy CTAs — these choices determine whether a user clicks, keeps browsing, or leaves. But there is much more to uncover, and in the following paragraphs, we’ll briefly review 19 must-have components that make a webpage both functional and attractive.
First up is the header or a site menu. Sitting right at the top, it is the primary thing anyone sees, no matter which page they land on. This element is strategically important, allowing users to jump from one page to the next without hindrance. It often includes a logo, main navigation, and sometimes a contact button or social media links.
The header is your first chance to make an impression, so you’ve got to make it count.
Your header is a site guide that ensures visitors know exactly where they are and how to find what they’re looking for. But here’s the thing — while it might be tempting to pack the header with as much information as possible, it’s crucial not to overload it. This approach helps in finding the perfect balance between providing essential information and maintaining simplicity.
<div class="post__style-link">Uncover the secrets of impactful header design through our best practices guide in the Website Header Inspiration article.</div>
Next on the list is the Call to Action (CTA) buttons that guide your visitors on what to do next, whether it’s “Buy Now,” “Learn More,” or “Sign Up.” Their main aim is to turn a passive user into an active one while improving conversions for a particular page.
However, it’s not just about slapping a button anywhere. A good CTA subtly stands out and doesn’t scream for attention — it’s clear, compelling, and inviting. Placement is key, too. Put it in a spot where it’s easy for visitors to find, and check out whether it makes sense in the context of your page.
Remember, the CTA button is your chance to convert a casual visitor into a customer or subscriber. Though a small element, it packs a powerful punch. Think of it as the finishing touch that brings the whole page together and sets the stage for your user’s next step.
Moving on, let’s talk about the hero section. Typically found below the header, this element is your chance to make an impactful statement. That section usually combines an eye-catching image or video with a powerful message and is often complemented by a CTA button. Its purpose is to grab attention, deliver a key message, and set the tone for the rest of the site.
Whether you’re showcasing a product, highlighting a service, or setting the mood, your hero section should be visually striking and emotionally resonant.
This component needs to connect with your visitors immediately, telling them what your site is about and what they can expect from it. It’s a balancing act — you want to be bold, captivating, clear and concise. When done right, the hero section can make the user experience better, drawing people in and motivating them to explore further.
Scrolling down to the bottom of the page, you’ll find the footer. Of course, it might not be the first thing visitors see, but it plays a crucial role in wrapping up their experience on your site.
This section often contains important links, contact information, social media icons, and sometimes a brief about the company or a sign-up form for newsletters. It’s a place where visitors can find various resources and information that didn’t quite fit in the main navigation in header or elsewhere on the page.
This is the last impression you leave on your visitors, so make it a good one, reflecting the professionalism and comprehensiveness of your site.
<div class="post__style-link">To enhance your understanding, explore the examples for using footers in our feature article on Website Footer Design.</div>
Up next is the slider. This element uses the technique of a slideshow or carousel and is the dynamic storyteller of your webpage that rotates a series of images, text, or videos across the screen. It showcases multiple pieces of content and thus saves space on your layout.
Whether it’s the latest offers, featured products, or key messages, the slider lets you present content in an engaging, easily digestible format. As a result, your visitors feel excited after an interactive experience while the metrics of their time spent on the site grow.
Another useful component is a search function tucked away in the header or an easily accessible place. With this element, visitors have a quick way to find what they’re looking for. It simplifies browsing content within a website and displays relevant information based on the search query.
Whether your site is packed with loads of media or a wide range of products, a search field helps cut through the clutter. This is a handy tool for e-commerce sites or content-heavy platforms where navigating through pages and categories can get overwhelming.
<div class="post__style-link">To explore the best ways to shape a search results page, be sure to read our Search Results Page Design article.</div>
When we think about easy navigation across a webpage, the menu is the main element that comes to mind. This component guides visitors through the site to help them understand what you offer at a glance and how to get there.
There are various menu types to choose from, each serving different design needs and user experiences. The classic horizontal menu runs across the top of your page, offering straightforward access to major sections. Then, there’s the sidebar menu, tucked to the side, perfect for sites with extensive navigation. Dropdown menus reveal additional options under each main category, while drop-up menus work similarly but open upwards.
For sites with a wide range of topics or products, the mega menu provides a comprehensive view of all options in one large panel. And let’s not forget the hamburger menu, a space-saving icon that expands to reveal navigation links. Each type has its advantages, and the choice largely depends on the layout and content of your webpage.
Next in line is breadcrumbs. No, we’re not talking about the kind you find in the kitchen, but the digital steps that help guide visitors through your website. It is important to note that they don’t replace the primary menu we discussed earlier but instead present a second level of navigation and streamline the platform’s usability.
The success is in the details, and nowhere is this truer than in the world of web design.
Typically appearing at the top of a page, this navigational feature shows users their current location on your site and how they got there. It leaves behind a digital footprint to help users backtrack or navigate to other sections without having to hit the “back” button multiple times.
Whether it’s for signing up for a newsletter, making a purchase, or getting in touch, forms are the go-to method for visitors to interact and communicate with your site. They are essential to gather information, simplify transactions, or get feedback. This element encourages users to send information to the system or server while allowing you to build up a customer base.
It should ask for only the necessary information, making the process quick and hassle-free. Think about the forms you’ve enjoyed filling out — they probably had clear labels, were easy to navigate, and didn’t ask for your life story. That’s what you must aim for. Place forms in an accessible way, making them intuitive, with a clear call to action, like “Submit,” “Send,” or “Sign Up.”
Move on to the next element — cards. Each section typically contains an image or icon, a brief description, and perhaps a call to action, all enclosed in a small, defined area. From products and blog posts to user profiles and more, cards organize a chunk of content types in a compact, visually appealing package. The beauty of using these components lies in their simplicity and clarity. They allow users to quickly scan for information, making the browsing experience more efficient and enjoyable.
<div class="post__style-link">Gain insights into card-based style by investigating cases and tips showcased in the Card UI Design article.</div>
Media materials are a big deal. When was the last time you scrolled past a video without at least a curious glance? They draw us in, keep us hooked, and sometimes, before we know it, we’ve learned something new or found a product we can’t live without.
So, why not harness the power of video on your website? Use it to show off your products, give a sneak peek into your services, or share some client testimonials. But while videos are great, they’ve got to be good. No one wants to sit through a grainy, hard-to-hear, or boring video. Your visitors are there for a reason, and videos should reflect that.
Have you ever filled out a form or completed a task online and wondered, “How much longer is this going to take?” That’s where a progress indicator comes in handy. This small but helpful element gives users a visual cue of where they are in the process and how much is left. It is especially useful for multi-step processes like online shopping checkouts, surveys, or registration forms.
Think of it as the digital equivalent of breadcrumbs leading to the finish line. It can be as simple as a series of dots, a numbered list, or a bar that fills up as you move forward. Whatever style you choose, make sure it’s clear and consistent.
But why stop at just being functional? Get creative with it! Use colors, animations, or even fun little messages that pop up as the user progresses. This makes the experience more engaging and can also reflect your brand’s personality.
There is another small yet mighty tool — favicon. That is a tiny icon in your browser tab next to a website’s name. It might seem insignificant, but it’s actually a little powerhouse in the world of web design that allows users to get a quick visual connection with your brand while they are browsing.
A favicon is your website’s mini calling card that makes a big impression. When a user has dozens of tabs open (and let’s be honest, who doesn’t?), your favicon is what helps your website stand out in that crowded sea. It’s a subtle and effective way to keep your brand visible and recognizable.
Creating a favicon is not just about shrinking your logo into a tiny square. It needs to be clear, identifiable, and reflective of your brand’s identity. The best favicons are simple, bold, and use limited color palettes. Remember, it must be recognizable even at a glance and on a small scale.
Another versatile element on your webpage is tags. They’re like those sticky notes you put on documents to remind you what’s what. On a website, they help categorize content, making it a breeze for users to find what they’re interested in. Say you’re running a blog. In that case, tags help your visitors quickly click through to related topics they’re curious about.
They’re also a big win for SEO. Search engines love well-organized content, and tags are a straightforward way to keep things neat and tidy. Plus, they give users a peek into what your content is all about. But here’s the key — don’t go overboard. Have you ever felt overwhelmed by a bunch of random sticky notes slapped everywhere? It’s the same with tags. Keep them relevant, specific, and to the point.
Links are your way of guiding visitors around your site and even beyond it. Whether it’s internal URLs that keep customers exploring your site or external ones that offer additional information, each is a helpful signpost. The main idea is to make it clear and purposeful.
You probably clicked on a link, thinking it would take you somewhere, and ended up in a completely unexpected place. Frustrating, right? That’s why your links should always be descriptive and give a good idea of where they lead. And let’s not forget about making them stand out. They have to be visible but not so flashy that they disrupt the flow of your content.
Let’s shine a spotlight on quality images. They speak volumes without saying a word, set the tone, evoke emotions, and connect with your audience on a deeper level. Such an essential element can showcase your products, share moments, and tell the brand’s story.
Check whether each image is in line with your identity, as the wrong visuals can lead to confusion among users. Additionally, be mindful of image size and loading speed. Nobody would care for even the most beautiful picture if it takes forever to load, and keeping the balance in that case is key.
<div class="post__style-link">Explore the art of image optimization and get the Image Resizing Halo Lab plugin in the article How to Optimize Images.</div>
And remember, diversity and authenticity in your imagery can make your website feel more inclusive and relatable. It’s about showing real people, real emotions, and real scenarios. Stock photos can be handy, but they must be chosen carefully to avoid that staged, generic look.
We’re close to the finish line, and the next element is typography. First up, font choice. This can be a fun playground but also a tricky field. Whenever you are sleek and modern or quirky and whimsical, select the best font that reflects your brand’s personality. Moreover, avoid using too many different ones. Stick to a few that complement each other and keep it consistent across your website.
Then there’s readability. Think about font size, color contrast, and spacing to make text readable. Also, consider the mood your typography sets, as different fonts evoke different feelings. A serif font might feel traditional and trustworthy, while a sans-serif could be seen as clean and modern.
<div class="post__style-link">If you want to learn more about fonts, read our article “24 serif font examples to improve your branding and website design in 2024.”</div>
And let’s not forget about special fonts for headings and accents — they’re like the highlighters of your text, drawing attention to key areas.
Time to talk about white space, often the invisible element of great web design. And while it might seem like “empty” space, it’s anything but. It gives users a break, helps them process information, and guides them from one element to another.
It doesn’t necessarily have to be white, by the way. It’s all about the unmarked space, regardless of color or background. This is the area between graphics, margins, gutters, fields between columns, and even the place between lines of text.
And balance is critical. Too little white space can turn your site into a cramped one, but too much might make it seem empty or unfinished. Try to find that sweet spot where design elements and white space complement one another harmoniously.
Finally, a sidebar is a trusty sidekick to your website’s main content with extra information or functionality. It can house anything from navigation menus, social media links, and author bios to call-to-action buttons like share, search bars, and upcoming events. Typically, it sticks to the left or right side of a web page and presents a vertical list of options.
A well-crafted sidebar is like a helpful guide, always offering something more.
A well-designed sidebar should be a natural extension of a website tailored to fit the content of your page. For example, a search bar might be included within a blog post, recent posts, or tags. On a product page, it may show related items or customer reviews. The key is relevance. Your sidebar should always offer something valuable and pertinent to the visitor’s current interest.
And there we have it — a comprehensive journey through the essential elements of a webpage, from top to bottom. We’ve explored how each component, including favicons, breadcrumbs, videos, cards, and many more, shapes an identity for a cohesive and user-friendly website. And most importantly, how to implement them correctly.
So, as you begin your web design journey, keep these elements in mind. Use them wisely, blend them creatively, and watch your website transform into a vibrant, living entity that connects with your audience and stands out in the digital world. If you’d like to leave this responsibility entirely to a design team, Halo Lab is happy to help. For more detailed information, contact us at any time!