A website header is an important aspect of a website design. This is because it is the first thing visitors see and it sets the tone for the entire website.
A well-designed header can capture visitors’ attention and encourage them to return.
This article outlines some of the best website header design practices. It also provides inspiring examples to help with the construction of headers.
What is a Website Header?
A website header is the top section of a website.
In previous years, it was a narrow banner at the top of the website that appeared on every page of the site. Now, there is no determined header size.
Some designers use the entire section above the fold as the header to display images and animations. They also design a small, separate header for the other pages of the website.
A website header is a valuable aspect of a website for many reasons. One reason is that the header promotes the brand and displays the purpose of the website.
It can display the personality and quality of a website. It is also a valuable tool to provide visitors with an exceptional user experience.
The header is one of the first things visitors will see and it can make a big impact on them.
In general, a header emphasizes the brand, attracts visitors, and facilitates navigation. It also creates a consistent browsing experience.
Main Elements of Website Headers
Website headers have different purposes depending on the site. Some headers focus on displaying a CTA, others on branding, and others on a product.
When designing a header, think about its objective. This will help to determine which elements to include in the design.
Common elements of a website header include:
- Logo, brand, or slogan
- Navigational links and menus
- Social Media buttons
- Contact information
- Language options
- Search field
- Login field
- Shopping Cart
- Page title
Headers do not need to contain all these elements. Instead, try to find the balance between too much information and too little.
Too much information will crowd the header and confuse visitors. Too little information makes it hard for visitors to understand how to navigate the site.
The goal of the header is to present the most important information to visitors in a clean format.
Best Website Header Design Practices
Website designers can be creative when constructing a header. However, it is also important to follow standard design guidelines.
The following design practices help create an understandable and impressive header.
Visual Hierarchy is the arranging of elements in a way that makes it easy for visitors to understand the information. Plan the layout of elements so that they are visible, readable, and will guide visitors.
Here are the basics of visual hierarchy:
Studies show that western visitors read a website starting from the upper left corner. Websites can either construct their site based on this reading path or break free from it.
One method that reinforces this reading path is to put the logo in the left corner. By doing this, the logo is the first thing visitors see.
The font is an important aspect of the header as the text needs to be readable. Stylized fonts are harder to read and are often not displayed in the header.
Strong fonts with larger sizes attract attention and allow the header to have a clean design. Designers have a little more scope when choosing a font for the page titles.
Colors also play a vital role in the visual hierarchy. Bright colors will draw attention.
The color of the text should contrast the background color to be more visible.
Whitespace between elements helps visitors take in the information faster. Elements placed close to each other give the idea that they are related.
Alignment, too, can have a big influence. When things are out of alignment they stand out for the wrong reasons. But correct alignment creates a balanced and appealing look.
Images keep visitors engaged and evoke an emotional reaction. Relevant images in the header can convey information about the website or business.
These images should move a visitor to buy what is being sold.
Several image options make a header more attractive. They include:
Photography has become more and more popular as phone cameras have improved. Most visitors expect to see quality photos on a website.
Some sites use one attractive photo to motivate visitors to explore the site. Others display a slideshow.
Another excellent option is to display animations or illustrations. These allow the designer to create a distinctive and memorable website header.
An animated image can be interactive to engage and entertain visitors.
Adding a video to the header is also a great way to captivate visitors. Many websites display a short video to present their company or product.
When using images, it’s possible to design the header to frame the image. Or designers may use a transparent header so as not to distract from the images.
For a sticky header, add a background color on scroll so that visitors can see the links.
Call To Action Buttons
Call-to-actions are a common feature in a website header. Placing a CTA in the header invites visitors to take action from the moment they enter the site.
This boosts sales and helps websites acquire leads. A CTA should have an understandable description, like “Free Trial” or “Contact Us”.
CTAs also need to stand out from the other content.
An important aspect of a header is the navigation menus or links. If a visitor cannot understand how to navigate a site, they will leave.
Navigational links help visitors understand where they are on the site and where to go.
To keep headers uncluttered while giving enough information, many websites use hidden navigation. Hidden navigation is when navigational links appear on click or hover.
A popular hidden navigation solution is the hamburger button or collapsed menu icon. It consists of horizontal lines that represent the menu.
Another popular hidden navigation method is the use of drop-down menus.
Parallax scrolling and other effects still surprise and impress visitors. The header is a perfect place to add these effects as it is the first thing that visitors see.
A good first impression attracts and retains visitors.
A fixed header is also called a sticky header or a floating header. This is when the header follows the visitor as they scroll.
A sticky header provides an exceptional user experience because it facilitates navigation. It allows visitors to navigate the site from any point without having to scroll back to the top of the page.
Sticky headers are useful for heavy content websites with long scrolling. They are also useful for making a CTA accessible no matter where the visitor is on the page.
A shrinking header minimizes the amount of space that headers take up. It is useful for large and impactful headers.
As visitors scroll, the header shrinks so that it only displays essential navigation elements.
Cool Website Header Examples
These website header examples contain core elements and are still creative.
This header displays animations and an obvious CTA. It is one of the few header designs that does not contain navigational links.
This website’s header displays a logo and slogan to emphasize branding. A cool aspect of the header is that it displays the total price of the items in the cart.
It also includes the option to change the color of the website.
Ready is a great example of a minimalistic website header. It displays a few icons and a “We’re Hiring” CTA.
Awake has a simple and informative header that comes in two sections. The first section uses brief words to describe the product.
The second section is a sticky header that displays links and a hidden menu.
For those who want to design a simple header, look to Halo Lab. This website’s header is minimalistic, containing three elements.
The website header for OpenPhone emphasizes its brand. It introduces the product with a clear message.
Sonuum is a good example of displaying essential aspects and eliminating distracting elements.
The noteworthy feature of Coastal Clouds’ header is that it uses icons instead of words. The icons are big, visible, and universally understood.
This website uses a transparent header to give attention to the animation. When a visitor scrolls down, the background color of the header changes and stays visible.
Pitch has a fixed header and an obvious CTA. This allows visitors to click on the CTA at any point during their visit.
The header also uses hidden navigation in the form of drop-down menus.
The website header for Thomas Vimare is an example of a simple and consistent header. A noteworthy feature is that it doubles as breadcrumbs so that visitors know what page they are on.
True to Form
True to Form took the core features of a header and put them into a sidebar.
It displays a logo, contact information, and social media links. The sidebar header stays fixed in place for access throughout the website.
Skye High Interactive
Skye High Interactive’s balanced header is understandable and provides a lot of information. Unlike other websites, the CTA in the header has the same font and color as the other links for a dignified look.
Loah Drinks has a header that focuses on the brand. The logo appears front and center and it includes a large CTA.
Like the page itself, this website’s header is simple and straightforward.
This header focuses on content and encourages visitors to explore the website. It has a transparent background to emphasize the slider images.
Baianat uses a simple yet attractive header design. It uses both icons and words to appeal to any demographic.
An interesting fact is that in Arabic the header format switches to read from right to left.
Nightjar uses a thin, sticky header focused on content. It uses strong typography to be visible but occupies a small amount of space on the website.
This header has a different layout than most. It uses links to frame the webpage. It also includes an element that encourages visitors to scroll down.
This website’s header presents a brief pitch and a CTA. It is a sticky header and it changes color to match the background color of the website.
Flamingo uses colors and images to evoke a calm feeling thus promoting its product.
Mockplus Cloud uses its header to display an attractive CTA. It also organizes and displays a large amount of information.
Hidden navigation in the form of drop-down menus keeps the header clean.
This header is not a cookie-cutter header. It includes a sidebar and sectional boxes.
It focuses on branding by displaying a picture of the artist.
Julia Alex Artist
The header used on this portfolio website is subtle and simple. It is a great example of not diverting attention away from the images.
This design also encourages visitors to keep scrolling.
Amber displays a sticky header with typography that stands out.
Glia organizes a lot of information in its header. It is a sticky header with drop-down menus, CTAs, a logo, and parallax scrolling.
The header for this website is subtle and allows visitors to focus on the featured image. It is a content-focused header that helps visitors to navigate the site.
It includes a search button and a collapsable menu.
WPS has a creative header that features a disappearing animation. The ‘Download’ CTA moves to the top of the page and remains there for easy access to this software.
Echoes’ website header contains words instead of icons or logos. It uses small typography to contribute to the luxurious feel.
This sticky website header uses small typography to maintain a stylish look. It contains many elements that enable visitors to enjoy smooth navigation.
Navigation is also possible from anywhere on the page.
All Front uses a sticky header with breadcrumbs and a CTA to help visitors navigate the site. A smooth transition from one header link to the other makes it more compelling.
Relate uses a large header to provide navigational links and the title of the webpage. The ‘Log-in’ and ‘Signup’ CTAs encourage visitors to join at the earliest convenience.
Here is a good example of designing a header to match the brand of the website.
The header for Parallel displays a collapsable menu. The menu is vertical with options parallel to each other.
The most prominent feature of this header is the large CTA. It attracts attention because of its size and contrasting color.
The Cool Club
This website header organizes the offerings of the website into categories. It also uses micro-interactions to add extra excitement.
This header’s objective is to showcase the images and enable visitors to make reservations. To accomplish these objectives the background is transparent but the CTA is attractive.
Websites with multiple languages can take a lesson from this header. PCB Arts’ header ensures that the language option is accessible.
Handsome’s website header displays a captivating reel to introduce its services.
Russia-Austria Edu Program
This website has a straightforward header with a collapsible menu.
Looking to emphasize its brand, this header has an attractive logo with a color that defines the whole website.
The website header for Circle has an appealing design because of its simplicity. It adds to the quality of the website by providing important information.
This website presents an example of a header that changes slightly from the home page to the other pages.
For those with an eCommerce website, this is a great example.
Etsy’s header organizes and categorizes all the site information. It also provides a search field so visitors can find exactly what they want.
The header for OpenAVN is worthy of imitation. It uses animations to impress visitors.
The noteworthy features of this header are its bright colors, its CTAs, and the interactive animation.
Woven’s header displays essential elements. It uses hidden menus to maintain a clean website layout and draw attention to the images.
Use this website’s header as an example of how to frame and draw attention to the featured picture.
This website maintains a clean layout with a simple header on a transparent background. The header helps relay important information to customers like shipping information.
Indico’s header displays a collapsible menu with a large, unmissable icon. It also includes images and large typography.
Churn Buster presents an inspiring header. It is simple and yet directs clients to the right place.
Out of Place Studio Design
This site uses a different color, animation, title, and description on its page headers.
Magic Spoon uses a large font in its header. It prioritizes information and encourages visitors to scroll down.
Nimax HR uses bold font and contrasting colors. When a visitor selects the links in the header, it opens in a different tab.
Remote Design Week 2020
This website highlights the importance of using strong typography and the right color scheme to make the header stand out.
A video introducing Aplós’ product plays in the header. The header disappears when scrolling down, but reappears when scrolling up.
Green Mountain Energy
This header displays an appealing illustration. It also demonstrates how to make a CTA highly visible.
The outstanding features of this header are the animation and the pronounced CTA.
Sweet JS uses bright colors and animation for a one-of-a-kind header.
This header uses a stylish font and a large attractive image. It displays notifications and the number of items in the cart.
Consider this example when designing a minimal header that displays essential features.
Bored of Authority®
The use of whitespace on the header creates a clean layout.
This website combines a stylized font, a simple color scheme, animation, and a CTA to create an appealing header.
Pictures on a slider define this header. The layout is minimalistic with the logo doubling as a collapsable menu.
The illustration is appealing and encourages visitors to scroll down. Also, the color of the header accents the entire site.
Moen’s header features a search field which is an important aspect of eCommerce sites. Hidden navigation appears with a hover.
Unique features of this website header are the elements on the right side of the page. These display a phone number, WhatsApp icon, and a CTA.
This header employs parallax scrolling and a vertical menu icon that contribute to the modern design of the site.
Calmind uses calm hues of blue to put their visitors in the right emotional state. It also incorporates three CTAs.
Websites with multiple languages can look to Ckonecta for one way to display language options. It is also a good example of using bright colors to attract attention.
This header design includes visible text and language options. It further encourages visitors to scroll down.
Pragmatic Brains provides an example of how to incorporate a lot of information on a header. It includes animations, navigation, language options, and a CTA.
Your Next Agency
Consider this design for a way to keep a simple, minimal header that emphasizes the brand.
World In My Lens
The designer of this website attached striking images to the header. The subtle hamburger menu button allows visitors to focus on the pictures.
This a one-page website. When a visitor clicks on a navigational link in the header, the page scrolls to that section.
Creative Dreams Design
This design studio showcases its creativity with animation and an uncommon header layout.
Streamline UX 2.0
Streamline UX 2.0 pitches its services in its header. The animation demonstrates some of the illustrations available.
This website exemplifies a sticky header with a simple design and attention-grabbing colors.
Designmodo uses bright colors to draw attention. Hidden navigation helps keep the website uncluttered.
Wild Side Design
This website demonstrates the difference between a good header and a great one. It uses hand-crafted illustrations to tell a story.
Public splits its header to display a video on one side and a CTA on the other.
This header accomplishes the task of being entertaining. It is also full of useful information including social media buttons.
The header appears when a visitor scrolls up, providing easy access to the navigational links.
Esenzzia’s priority is to help visitors find exactly what they need. To accomplish this, there are multiple search fields in the header.
Okb Interactive Studio
This website displays a memorable header by overlaying a picture with the slogan. It is a modern, simple, and appealing design.
Open Digital Studio
The Open Digital Studio header contains few elements and focuses on showcasing its brand.
This header design makes the purpose of the website clear with images and large text.
Uroboros Design-Art Festival
This header features a unique background and bright colors. It works to encourage visitors to continue scrolling.
Adam Ho Portfolio
Adam Ho’s header provides inspiration for creating an interactive and entertaining header.
Anduril Industries uses a video in the header. The strong font and brief descriptions convey the type of work this website offers.
Together For Animals
This website is a great example of using images to touch the heart and evoke an emotional response. It includes useful social media buttons so that visitors get involved.
Baxter of California
Here the header uses the design practice of displaying notifications. It also uses parallax effects to add excitement.
Kinective Fitness Club
Outstanding features of this header include the slogan, images, and parallax effects.
Explore this website for an example of a shrinking header.
Whiteboard’s header encourages visitors to take action by displaying many CTAs.
Topology Eyewear Website
On this website, the header displays an image that almost looks 3D. It organizes navigational links to the left.
The animations displayed in this header capture the purpose of this business.
Ending thoughts on these website header examples
The 96 website header examples above show that there are several ways to design headers.
For a strategic header design keep these practices in mind:
- Keep headers uncluttered
- Have a minimal amount of text
- Facilitate navigation
- Encourage visitors to scroll through the rest of the site
The website header design practices and examples listed provide much inspiration. This can move designers to create many attractive website headers.
If you enjoyed reading this article about website header, you should read these as well:
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