When potential customers visit your website for the first time, they should immediately understand how to move in the right direction and fulfill their goals. And that’s where the header comes into play.
Normally, the header is closely related to the hero block of your website. The header streamlines navigation and enables the visitors to use the website the way they need. The hero block, in turn, conveys the main value of your service and establishes emotional contact. If designed properly, these website components will grab the audience’s attention, invite them to use your service or make a purchase, and immediately communicate your core business idea.
Based on Halo Lab designers’ deep expertise, this post will explain the key principles of a website header design. You will learn the most crucial header elements, effective design approaches, and potential challenges. Additionally, we will provide ten website header examples for your inspiration.
Ready to dive into the details? Let’s get started!
Main elements of website headers
Before drilling down to website header design specifics, let’s define the key terms you should be familiar with.
- The header is the web page’s top section that normally contains the elements that simplify the visitors’ interactions with the website.
- The hero is usually an image or a banner at the top of the website. Thanks to its instantly noticeable location, the hero can introduce the website’s essence to the visitors and grab their attention.
The header is one of the most influential areas of a website. Its core function is similar to the one performed by an information sign that guides visitors through the website. It should serve as the key means of navigation.
Here are the most common elements your header may consist of:
- User account
- Essential text
- Menu and navigation
- Search bar
Some headers may also include a shopping cart, social media links, language options, etc. It depends on your website’s nature and the essential things your visitors should access.
5 Tips for effective website header design
The header is the website’s main navigation tool. Therefore, it should be clear and intuitive. The website’s visitors want to easily access all required information, quickly move to the desired page, and instantly find what they’ve come for.
Thus, your header shouldn’t delay users and waste their time. Otherwise, you can simply lose many potential customers. In fact, 55% of website visitors spend less than 15 seconds on the page and then leave. Some of the key reasons for this are the website’s complexity and poor usability.
To address this issue and retain more customers, it's worth starting with the basics and ensuring your website header design doesn’t push the visitors away. So it’s a good idea to organize space logically from the user’s point of view.
Here are several tips on making your header and hero design consistent, easy to perceive, and unique at the same time.
1. Choose a suitable font
The chosen typeface significantly affects header design. 2. Each can play a key role since a small amount of text in the header should clearly communicate an important message. So, ensure the chosen font is readable, visible, and doesn’t blend into the background.
It’s also important to make the headline or title appeal to the users and grab their attention. To achieve this, you may resort to a large (or even extralarge) font size. It’s in line with the latest UI/UX design trends.
Finally, both bold sans-serif and elegant serif typefaces might be a perfect fit with an eye on your brand style and overall interface design.
2. Use visuals
As mentioned above, the hero and header are usually two parts of a whole, where the hero component is often represented by an image or a video. It allows you to personalize your page, establish emotional contact with the visitors, and instantly convey your product’s essence. The statistics prove that the human brain processes visual content 60,000 faster than text-based content.
However, the visual component should be used when applicable. For instance, sticky headers are often designed without images not to interrupt the users’ scrolling experience.
There are several possible ways to engage users with visual content placed in the hero block. Each of them can be beneficial if used properly.
- Illustrations and animations. An illustration used for web header design can support your website’s style and efficiently introduce your product or service. Too abstract and incoherent illustrations might not be a good idea, though. A good image communicates a certain message to the visitors. In turn, animated content can offer a more interactive and entertaining experience.
- Photos. Real photos are gaining popularity since they make websites look personalized and emotionally closer to the users. High-quality photos can have a powerful impact and attract much attention. A transparent background helps provide a better focus on the image.
- Videos. According to the source, 60% of modern businesses use video marketing to engage users. You can use a brief video presenting your company, product, team, etc., to captivate visitors and quickly clarify what you do and what is your service’s key value.
3. Engage users with CTA
Call-To-Action is a great way to lead website visitors to a certain action. If designed and placed properly, CTA buttons like “Sign up,” “Contact us,” “Get started,” etc., will have a positive impact on customer retention and sales. Everything matters, from the button’s color and size to its location.
Normally, a good CTA should be:
- Noticeable and clear.
- Instantly accessible.
- Communicating an understandable message.
Make sure your CTA isn’t lost among the other header elements. It should be one of the first things the users will see.
4. Simplify navigation and search
Good navigation is crucial: if the users don’t understand how to find what they’ve come for, they simply leave. However, everything else regarding your navigation links, header menu design, search, etc., entirely depends on your website’s purpose.
If you want to keep the users’ attention on the CTA, video introduction, or just focus on a single message, it’s a good idea to use a so-called hamburger menu button and hide the menu. Thus, the users will access the links when pressing the icon, while the header itself remains non-overwhelmed.
However, many businesses need to provide their users with instant access to certain links to simplify navigation. In such cases, it’s worth keeping the menu visible. Thereby, its main elements are just in front of the user's eyes.
Sometimes the menu is vertical, placed on the left side of the screen. This approach is used when there isn’t enough space on the top of the page or if it’s a product, and the right sight of the screen serves as a workspace. Nielsen Norman Group concludes: “A well-designed vertical navigation should be left-aligned, keyword front-loaded, and visible.”
5. Get creative yet follow best practices
There’s no one-size-fits-all solution as most things about the design of heading depend on your business goals, website’s type, and audience’s nature. What’s more, coming up with creative heading design ideas will help your website stand out and attract the visitors’ attention.
However, there are a few things that actually work providing convenience and accessibility for the users. Here are the key issues one should avoid when designing a header.
- Too many buttons. Don’t misuse navigational buttons and CTAs. Here, “the more, the better” principle doesn’t work. Extra buttons can confuse the user and make the website’s main idea fuzzy.
- Too complicated structure. If your website consists of many pages, don’t try to fit the entire sitemap into your header. It should contain only the list of essential products and the top menu items linking to the main pages. Otherwise, your header will be too overwhelming and intrusive.
10 Best header examples
Here are several distinctive website header design templates. Although each has its unique style and specific goals, they all follow certain best practices.
Without further ado, let’s look at these examples and get some website header design inspiration!
1. Halo Lab’s case study
Let’s start exploring the best examples of header design with our company’s experience.
Our goal was to create a header that would include all the prioritized functions. The product was quite complex and contained many features, view modes, and projects in progress.
We created a header with three levels, placing the functions from top to bottom due to the defined hierarchy. The levels’ appearance depends on the page's nesting: if users aren’t involved in the project, they don’t see the second and the third levels.
The first level consists of the core functions that apply to the entire product. The second one contains the project’s main and basic settings. And the third level integrates the functions related to displaying the project and workflow details.
We’ve also designed two-level headers where the first level consists of something general like a logo, contacts, about us, etc. In contrast, the second one contains essential functions like catalog, search, shopping cart, etc. Such an approach is often applied to eCommerce platforms.
Airbnb is one of the most intuitive and concise header website examples. It’s primarily focused on search with all necessary filters available for the new customers. Thus, the service is instantly accessible, with no need to sign up right away. The new visitor can use the search to see how the website works and realize its value. The other links are hidden in a hamburger menu.
The slogan, CTA, and photo serve as an excellent introduction to the offered service.
Asana is another example of a great website header design with no extras. Like any other project management tool, Asana’s sitemap is quite large, including links to its numerous services, features, and resources. However, only the main menu items are displayed. Everything else is hidden in the submenu.
The header photo is cleverly accompanied by a list of basic services that link to the relevant pages.
Looking for website header design inspiration? Minimalism is the new black!
The Intercom website header is neat and CTA-centered. The slogan clearly communicates the service’s specifics to the users, so the lack of visuals only sharpens the focus on this message and CTA. Also, Intercom provides interesting dropdowns with solutions and features, where the menu is divided into a few sections.
Synthese engages and entertains users with catchy 3D animation supporting the overall website style. It follows the latest UI trends, using geometric figures, bold colors, and simple 3D effects. The menu and search are hidden and appear when you click a big and immediately noticeable icon in the upper right corner, which greatly streamlines navigation.
Look at this example of a website header designed by Halo Lab. The key elements are placed in usual, intuitive order, allowing the users to quickly navigate and get instant access to the key menu elements like search, contacts, shopping cart, etc. At the same time, the hero block stands out thanks to the oversized headline text, memorable visuals, gradient background, and original image placement.
7. Lips Love
As mentioned above, it’s not always necessary to follow strict rules. This header is an example of a creative approach to its elements’ location. The menu is placed on the left side of the screen. However, it still looks clear, intuitive, and non-overwhelming. Meanwhile, the header and hero blocks are unique and memorable, introducing the bright background, bold typefaces collaboration, and an image that effectively communicates the product’s essence.
Here is a great header example created by the Halo Lab team. Its main specifics are retro magazine style and oversized title font combined with real photos supporting the website’s key goal. Elegant thin lines separate the individual sections and make the interface architecture convenient and consistent.
Toyota's website includes a big hero block with a video placed in a slideshow. It’s a perfect example of how visual content can replace text-based, enabling visitors to immediately immerse themselves in the product’s essence. The horizontal menu here is divided into two levels.
Ikea’s promo website is one of the greatest website header examples that convey straightforwardness and user-friendliness. It provides the main focus on the CTA that encourages the visitors to start using the service right away. Such a page’s purpose is to convey the key information about the company. So it doesn’t contain much content, and the menu is hidden behind the hamburger icon not to distract the visitors from their main purpose.
Use inspiration for your heading design
The header is one of the key components of any website as it’s the first screen people see. And of course, the first impression is critical. Thus, a well-designed header clearly and instantly communicates your key message to the users. What’s more, the header should be a convenient navigation tool, ensuring a smooth user journey.
That’s why heading design strives for simplicity and clarity, considering generally accepted standards, convenient for the users. At the same time, these limits still leave enough room for creativity and new fresh ideas.
Hopefully, our website header templates served as inspiration for creating your unique design.
And if you look for an advanced team to help you out, we are ready to come in handy. Halo Lab is an experienced design and development agency serving many business fields. We’ve got deep expertise in UI/UX design, website design, mobile app design, and branding.
Get in touch! Let’s discuss your project and find efficient solutions for your needs!