Website Header Design: Tips and Examples for 2024

Website Header Design in 2024: Best Practices and Examples

Website Header Design blog image

Your website’s header is the first thing visitors see, making its design crucial for creating a positive first impression.

Headers guide visitors around your site, kind of like a map. They help visitors find what they’re looking for without getting lost. Think of it as the table of contents in a book. It tells you where everything is.

A good header can make your own website feel more friendly and even get more people to stay and look around.

In this article, we’ll delve deep into the best practices and emerging trends for website header design.

Takeaways
  • Your website’s header is the pivotal first impression for visitors
  • Ensuring your header adapts to every device is non-negotiable
  • Effective use of white space can declutter and guide user attention
  • The right header image can resonate deeply with your brand’s message
  • Stay updated; today’s trending design might be tomorrow’s outdated look
  • Prioritize user experience, ensuring ease of navigation and clarity
  • Animations can enhance, but overuse can overwhelm—use them wisely
  • While the focus is on headers, remember they’re part of a bigger website design picture

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What Is Website Header Design?

Have you ever visited a website and noticed the section at the top with the website’s name, maybe a logo, and some clickable buttons or links? That’s the website header.

So, the website header design is how that top section looks and works.

Here is an example of a website header:

HostAdvice website header

There are a lot of things to consider when designing a header. It’s not just about making it look good. You want it to be appealing and functional. It has to guide visitors, showing them where to go next.

So, besides the website’s name and logo, headers often have menus. These menus can be a list of places you can visit on the website, like “Home,” “About Us,” or “Contact.”

What Is the Main Purpose of a Header in a Web Page?

When you jump onto a website, one of the first things you see at the top is the header. Think of it as a friendly guide, ready to help you explore.

But what exactly is its main job?

Main JobDescription
Brand IdentityThe header often contains the website’s logo or title, establishing a visual representation of the brand.
Primary NavigationIt hosts essential links like “Home,” “About Us,” “Services,” and “Contact” for easy and hassle-free navigation.
Key Marketing ElementsThe header can include calls-to-action like “Sign Up,” “Book Now,” or “Shop Today” for optimized engagement.
Search FunctionalityContent-rich websites may have a search bar in the header for quick access to specific information or products.
Accessibility FeaturesInclusive headers offer options like font size adjustments, contrast changes, and tools for visually impaired users.
Multilingual and Regional NavigationGlobal websites may include language and regional options for broader accessibility.
Contact and SupportService-oriented websites often provide quick links for customer support through contact numbers, chatbots, or helpdesk links.

Types of Website Header Designs

Over the years, designers have experimented with and refined various header designs. Let’s delve into some of the popular header examples that have been a success.

  1. Single-Line Header with Left-Aligned Logo

This design places your website’s logo or brand name on the left side of the header, usually at the very beginning. The rest of the header space, extending to the right, is reserved for navigational links or buttons.

So, when you land on a website with this design, your eyes will first be drawn to the logo on the top left corner. This positioning makes it easy for users to identify the website they’re on immediately.

As you move your gaze to the right, you’ll find the primary navigation links, often in a horizontal line. These could be links like “Home,” “About,” “Services,” “Contact,” and so forth.

The beauty of this design is its simplicity and straightforwardness. It provides a clean, uncluttered look, ensuring users quickly find what they need without any distractions.

Best Single-Line Website Header Design Examples

quickbooks

QuickBooks’s accounting website uses a single-line header with a left-aligned logo design.

Many reputable news websites, like BBC or Al Jazeera, often use this layout due to its clean presentation and easy navigation for readers.

aljazeera

  1. Mobile-Optimized Header with Hamburger Menu

As of the first quarter 2023, mobile devices (excluding tablets) generated 58.33% of global website traffic.

So, ensuring a website looks and functions seamlessly on smaller screens is important.

A mobile-optimized header is a header designed explicitly with mobile devices in mind. It prioritizes clarity, ease of navigation, and efficient use of limited screen space.

One of the features of such headers is the hamburger menu, a small icon typically consisting of three horizontal lines. When clicked or tapped, this icon reveals your website’s primary navigation links, which might otherwise take up too much space if always visible on a mobile screen.

Best Hamburger Menu Website Header Design Examples

Major online retailers like Amazon or ASOS utilize the hamburger menu in their mobile views.

The compact design aids in easy navigation through multiple product categories without overwhelming mobile users.

asos easy worldwide delivery

This is how this website looks when you click the hamburger menu:

hamburger menu

  1. Desktop/Mobile Hybrid Header

This design solution bridges the gap between desktop and mobile layouts, providing a seamless interface regardless of screen size.

The idea behind a hybrid header is to combine elements optimized for both desktop and mobile views. Instead of having two entirely different designs for desktop and mobile, a hybrid approach often involves adaptive or responsive design principles.

The header elements will rearrange, resize, or change appearance based on the screen’s width, ensuring the most important features are always accessible and presented attractively.

Best Hybrid Header Website Header Design Examples

Websites like The Verge or CNET often employ hybrid headers. They cater to a diverse audience accessing content from various devices.

Using a hybrid header, they ensure that whether you’re browsing on a desktop at work or mobile on the go, the experience remains consistent.

This is how CNET header looks on a desktop:

CNET header

This is how it looks on mobile:

CNET header mobile

  1. Header with Mega Menu

The Mega Menu type of header is powerful, especially for websites that offer many options or products, as it presents information in an organized, easy-to-navigate manner.

A Mega Menu is an extended dropdown menu displaying more than simple links. Only the core elements are displayed in the header. When you hover over or click on a primary menu item, instead of seeing a traditional dropdown with a list of links, you’re greeted with a larger panel that features a variety of content.

This ranges from multi-column lists of links, to images, to short descriptions, and even videos. The goal is to provide users with a comprehensive overview of available content, allowing them to easily delve deeper into their area of interest.

NOTE: Visually, a header with a Mega Menu may not look different from a regular header at first glance. Only when you interact with certain menu items does the extensive range of options become evident.

Best Mega Menu Website Header Design Examples

This menu benefits e-commerce sites with multiple product categories, large-scale publications with various content categories, or institutional sites offering services or resources.

Sites like Samsung or Dell, which offer various products from phones to laptops to accessories, often employ Mega Menus to streamline navigation.

Samsung Menu Website Header

Above is how the header looks when you interact with it.

  1. Left-Aligned Vertical Header

A horizontal header has been the norm for many websites, but design trends have shifted and evolved. One such trend that’s gained traction is the left-aligned vertical header.

This design deviates from the traditional top-of-the-page placement by vertically positioning the header elements on the web page’s left side.

The left-aligned vertical header features a column on the screen’s left side containing elements like the logo, navigation links, and possibly other essential tools or buttons.

This design gives a more artistic or contemporary feel, offering a fresh layout that stands out from the typical website.

Best Left-Aligned Vertical Website Header Design Examples

An example is the Abbotsford Convention website:

Abbotsford Convention

  1. Header with a Utility Bar

Every little detail counts in web design, especially when aiming to improve user experience and functionality. One such design feature that balances both aesthetics and utility is the header with a utility bar.

A utility bar is a slim horizontal bar typically positioned at the top of a website, above the main header. It’s reserved for specific utility items, secondary actions, or important information but not the site’s primary focus.

This can include contact numbers, social media icons, log-in or sign-up links, language selection, and perhaps even a brief announcement or offer.

Best Website Header Design Examples with a Utility Bar

Websites like Nordstrom or Best Buy utilize utility bars to provide quick links to sign in, purchases, cart, or customer service numbers.

Best Buy website header

Nordstrom website header

  1. Header with a Notification Bar

A notification bar, often found at the very top of a web page, serves as an alert system, directly bringing urgent news, special offers, updates, or calls to action to the user’s attention.

Visually, a notification bar is a thin horizontal strip stretching across the browser window’s width. It can be static (remaining at the top of the page) or sticky (staying visible even as users scroll).

The color of the notification bar often contrasts with the website’s primary palette to ensure it grabs attention. Text within this bar is usually concise, making the message clear and direct.

Occasionally, the bar might include a clickable button or link, prompting users to take specific actions like “Shop Now,” “Learn More,” or “Sign Up.”

Notification bars are dynamic, and their content changes based on promotions, urgent announcements, or user behavior. For instance, your website might display a special discount in the notification bar for first-time visitors, while returning users might see a different message.

Best Website Header Design Examples with a Notification Bar

Stores like Adidas use notification bars to promote ongoing sales, exclusive discounts, or alert customers about limited stock items.

adidas header

Software as a Service (SaaS) sites like Webflow uses notification bars to announce new features, maintenance downtimes, or special offers for premium plans.

webflow header

  1. Header with Multi-Site Navigation

Some brands manage multiple websites or platforms under their umbrella. Maybe they have different product lines, services, or even regional or language differences.

A header with multi-site navigation makes the interconnectedness of these platforms seamless, allowing users to hop between related sites effortlessly.

A header featuring multi-site navigation includes dropdown menus or clear icons representing the different sites or platforms linked to the main entity. Instead of navigating away and searching for the related site, users can switch between these related sites directly from the header, saving time and effort.

Best Website Header Design Examples with Multi-Site Navigation

Companies like Microsoft, which have a lot of products and services, could use multi-site navigation to direct users to specific product sites or related platforms.

Microsoft header

On the Microsoft website, the links in the header take you to different websites.

How to Make a Good Header for a Website: What to Include

When designing a website, the header plays a pivotal role. It’s one of the first elements your visitors see and dictates how users navigate and interact with your content.

Here’s a breakdown of essential items you should consider including in your website’s header for optimal user experience and engagement:

ItemDescription
1. LogoLogo represents your company or website, providing brand recognition and a link to the homepage.
2. Navigational LinksPrimary links guiding visitors through the site for a positive user experience.
3. ProductDirect links or dropdowns showcasing primary goods or services for clarity and efficient navigation.
4. SolutionsDedicated sections or pages addressing specific problems or needs, explaining how products or services can help.
5. ResourcesMaterials, articles, tools, or content offering value to visitors, positioning the site as an authority.
6. PricingA section detailing the costs of products, services, or subscriptions for transparency and trustworthiness.
7. Search BarA tool for users to find specific content or products, enhancing usability, particularly for content-rich sites.
8. Shopping CartAn icon or link allowing users to view items they intend to purchase, essential for e-commerce sites.
9. Social Media ButtonsIcons linking to your brand’s social media profiles to expand digital presence and encourage sharing.
10. Login FieldA section for returning users to access their profiles or accounts, offering personalized experiences.
11. CTA (Call to Action)Buttons or links prompting users to take specific actions, guiding them towards desired goals.

Best Practices for Website Header Design

A well-designed header is like a welcoming host at a party, ensuring guests know exactly where to go and what to do. If you want to make sure your website’s “host” is doing its job right, here are some best practices you should consider:

Use White Space Wisely

White space is the open, unoccupied space in your design, free from text, visuals, or other elements.

Think of white space as the ”breathing room” for your header. It prevents your header from feeling cramped or overwhelming. Proper white space enhances readability and creates a clean, professional look.

Create a Custom Header Design for Mobile

With so many users accessing sites via mobile, you must ensure that their experience is as smooth as their desktop counterparts. No pinching, zooming, or squinting when they are viewing your website.

Keep the Header Well-Structured and Well-Organized

Strategically place every element in the header so it’s easily accessible and intuitive.

An organized header should be like a well-laid-out map. It should guide your visitors, ensuring they find what they need without getting lost.

Pick Simple Fonts That Are Easy to Read

Opt for fonts that are clean and easy on the eyes.

A readable header ensures that your audience instantly grasps your offerings. It’s all about communicating clearly and swiftly.

Use Visual Elements Sparingly

Incorporate images or icons in moderation. While visuals enhance a design, overloading them will distract users. Ensure you’re enhancing the user experience, not overwhelming it.

Add Animation to the Navigation Only

If you want to incorporate animations, limit them to the navigation elements, such as dropdowns or menu expansions.

Animations can be enticing, but overuse can distract the user. Focus on navigation to bring fluidity without creating a carnival effect.

Create a Sticky Header

This header remains visible and “sticks” to the top of the screen as users scroll down a page.

It offers continuous navigation, ensuring users have access to vital parts of your site, no matter how deep they go.

Consider the Header-to-Content Ratio

Ensure your header doesn’t dominate the screen, especially on landing or home pages where content is key.

You don’t want to push crucial content too far down. It’s about balance, ensuring the header serves but doesn’t dominate.

Make the Header Transparent Only When Appropriate

Some designs feature transparent headers that overlay content, revealing the header’s background as users scroll.

Transparency is sleek, but make sure it doesn’t compromise the content underneath. Use it in contexts where it enhances the design without compromising functionality.

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How to Style a Header: Questions to Consider

Styling a website header might seem hard initially, but it becomes a manageable and enjoyable project when broken down step by step. There are several fundamental questions you should consider to ensure your header looks great and functions seamlessly. Let’s tackle these questions one by one:

What Should a Website Header Look Like?

A website header should reflect the essence of your brand and offer immediate clarity about your site’s content or purpose.

It should have a clean design, intuitive navigation, and essential elements like a logo, navigation links, and a call-to-action.

Remember, it’s the first impression visitors get, so it should be both visually appealing and functional.

What Is the Best Size for a Website Header?

The optimal size for a website header often depends on your website’s overall design and the devices your audience uses.

However, a common practice is to keep it between 100 and 300 pixels in height. This size ensures it’s visible without overwhelming the rest of the content. Always ensure it’s responsive, adjusting seamlessly across different device screens.

What Makes a Good Header Image?

A good header image should be high-resolution, relevant to your brand or content, and not too cluttered. Choose an image that complements your website’s color scheme and doesn’t detract from the header’s text or navigation elements. Think of it as a backdrop: it should set the stage without stealing the show.

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Can You Use an Existing Website Header Design HTML Code?

Yes, you can use existing HTML code templates for website headers, especially if you’re looking for a standard design or are not familiar with coding.

However, customize the template to fit your brand’s identity and ensure it’s compatible with your website platform. Also, always test it across different devices for responsiveness.

Where Can You Download Free Website Header Design Templates?

Numerous online platforms offer free website header design templates. Websites like TemplateMonster and Colorlib provide various header templates suited for different website platforms.

When choosing a template, ensure it aligns with your site’s design and can be customized to match your branding.

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Final Word: Implement a Creative Header Design for Your Website

First impressions matter immensely. Your website’s header is the first thing people see.

Pick a good design that shows what your site is about.

Take your time, look at different designs, and find the best one for you. Remember, a great header can make your website stand out and attract more visitors.

Next Steps: What Now?

  • Browse different header designs on platforms like Pinterest or Dribbble for inspiration
  • Consider getting feedback from website designers or friends familiar with web design
  • Once you’ve chosen a design, test it on different devices to ensure it looks and functions well everywhere
  • Read articles or watch tutorials on website builders and UI design to stay updated with the latest trends
  • Ask your website visitors or customers for feedback. They might have valuable insights that can help improve the header further.
  • Web design is ever-evolving. Regularly check our blog at HostAdvice for the latest website design tips and advice.

Learn More About Website Navigation

Frequently Asked Questions

What is heading vs. header in web design?

A “header” is the top section of a website, often containing the logo, navigation links, and main branding elements. A “heading,” on the other hand, refers to the titles or subtitles used within the content of a page, helping to organize and highlight different sections. Think of a header as the website’s introduction and headings as content markers.

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