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All You Need To Know About Website Header Designs

December 14, 2019 |
Design, UI Design, Web Design
Website Header Designs

The landing page of your website is where the users first interact with you. It is your chance to create a solid first impression by creating impressive Website Header Designs. Undoubtedly, some areas of the webpage or mobile screen are particularly important and effective as compared to others; the header is one such area. 

In this article, we will discuss the functions of a header and different types of website header designs. 

What is a website header?

The header is the top part of the webpage. It is the area that users see for the first seconds of their introduction to the website before they scroll down or jump onto a particular section. The header should provide the core information about your business and offerings so that users could scan it in seconds. Headers are called “Site Menus” and are positioned as a key element of navigation in the website layout.

What can a website header design include?

Headers can include many layout elements  – 

  • Brand identity elements like logo, brand name, slogan, mascot, etc.
  • Search box
  • Core categories and sections of the website
  • Copy block around the theme of the product
  • Contact information
  • Language selector, in case of multi-lingual interface
  • links to the most important social networks

And many more.

That said, It’s not necessary to include all the above-mentioned elements in one web page header. You don’t want to stuff and overload your header with too much information. Too many elements and objects distract the user’s attention. Strategically pick the important elements, list them out, and choose the focused ones.

Why is the Website Header important?

There are several reasons why the header is a critical element of any website. Firstly, let’s consider the eye-scanning models which show how users interact with a webpage in the first few seconds of their interaction. When people visit the website, especially for the first time, they do not explore everything on the page. They scan it to look for attention-catching elements that convince them to spend some time on the website. 

The Nielsen Norman Group has researched extensively on determining the most common patterns in which users generally scan a webpage. Experiments on user eye-tracking showed that there are certain models along which visitors usually scan the website. Out of these, the most common patterns were the Z-Pattern, Zig-Zag pattern and F-Pattern. 

The similarity in all the three patterns is that users start the scanning process at the top horizontal area of the webpage. Displaying the core information and branding on the header helps readers quickly scan the key data. It also allows retaining users if the information is displayed properly.

Readability And Visual Hierarchy

The aspect of readability plays a huge role in the header. Therefore, a lot of thinking must go into deciding the typefaces for headers and the background color. The user must be able to scan and notice this basic information as fast as possible without any stress or distractions.

Also, remember that there are various ways for a header to transform while scrolling the page down. Some websites use a fixed header, which always stays and shows up at any point of interaction with the website; others hide the header during the process of scrolling. Some websites do not fully hide or fix the header but shrink it in size in the process of scrolling. All the secondary information is hidden and only the core elements of the layout are left active at all times.

Types of Website Headers

Hamburger Menu

Hamburger menus have gained a lot of popularity over the last few years. It is a great design solution that hides the basic links of data categories behind the hamburger button. The horizontal lines of the icon look like a typical hamburger, and that’s why the name.

This button is mostly placed in the header and is a typical element of user interaction. Today, most of the users are familiar with the Hamburger menu and expect the core categories of data under it. So, there’s no need for additional explanations and prompts. Hamburger menu leaves a lot of free space to place other important layout elements, and also provides a minimalistic design feel. This design technique benefits the responsive and adaptive design as it hides the navigation elements so that the interface looks the same on different devices.

Although hamburger menus are widely used as header elements, they are still a debatable issue of modern web and app design. A lot of design experts argue that a hamburger menu can be confusing for people who do not use websites regularly. So the decision of using a hamburger menu should be based on extensive research on users and target audience’s needs.

Fixed Header

Fixed headers is another header design trend that boosts usability if applied effectively. There are a lot of websites nowadays that use a fixed header. Take an example of Facebook. When you’ve logged into Facebook and scroll down you still see the header with the search bar and some other core functions at the top. 

The benefit of a fixed header is that if the user needs to use a function they can easily jump to the header without the need to scroll up, as would be required for a non-fixed header. However, if there is more content then users might lose some space because the header occupies some permanent screen real-estate. It enables to provide users with navigation area available at any point of interactions, which can be helpful in terms of content-heavy pages with long scrolling.

These tips might be helpful for you for designing headers

Double menu

The double menu in the header can present two layers of navigation. We have shown the example of such a trick in one of the recent case studies for a bakery website.

The bottom line is that the header is a vital zone of interaction for any website and needs careful design consideration. Each website header designs requires its own approach which fits for a specific target audience. User research is the key, based on which the decision can be made, whether to follow the traditional forms of header design or they need a new perspective. Want to know more? Ask our design experts.

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