A small test before we dive in: What is a website header to you? Is it just a placeholder bar with a set of standard buttons? (Everyone’s using them, so why shouldn’t I?) Or maybe it’s a stylish invitation to the most exciting website journey ever?
If you agree with the second statement, we bet you are a seasoned web designer or strive to become one. You know that you have only 50 milliseconds to form the desired first impression and that a header is a perfect place to do this through seamless navigation and stunning visuals. Maybe you are even responsible for some terrific website header examples we will share below.
Believe in the first statement? We are sure that our collection of creative website headers will turn your header beliefs upside down. But first, let’s start with the best practices of website header designing.
What Is a Website Header?
Just as the head is the top of a human body, a website header is the top of a web page. So, it is a good idea to use it as the smartest part by making this valuable website real estate serve your branding and UX goals.
The main objective of a website header is to provide thoughtful and intuitive navigation, helping visitors easily move from one page to another and effortlessly get what they came for.
However, a modern header goes beyond just navigation. Today, creative web designers effectively use it to wow users, set an emotional tone for the website, and promote a brand through attractive visuals (animations, images, videos, etc.). Also, a well-thought-out header design creates a cohesive, aesthetic environment throughout the website and makes the browsing experience consistent.
The main parts of the website header
A website header may include various elements, such as:
- Brand logo and slogan;
- Menu bar and navigational links;
- Call-to-action button;
- Language bar;
- Page title;
- Login and search fields;
- Shopping cart;
- Social media buttons.
Although all these components seem valuable, you don’t have to use them all. A perfect combination of header elements comes from understanding your website’s main purpose. For example:
- If your goal is to promote a product, the header design should contain a hero image, a bright slogan, and a few links to the website’s main sections.
- If you aim at making users take immediate actions (for example, it’s a hospitality outlet or restaurant), a call-to-action like “Book now” in your header is a must-have.
- If you want to help your informational or ecommerce website users switch easily between different categories and products, make orders, contact staff, and more, you should focus on thoughtful navigation. A header for an online store must also feature a shopping cart icon to provide a seamless buying experience.
A good website header design is always a delicate balance between too many and too few elements. An overcrowded header can confuse users and spoil their experience. At the same time, a too empty one can prevent them from getting the value they expect. Minimalistic header design (logo plus a couple of links) is usually beneficial for landing pages when you need a user to make only one decision. However, if that is not the case, make sure your website header contains sufficient options for comfortable navigation.
A thoughtful website header designing process may also require prototyping tools to create and then A/B test different design approaches. And good news for those who can’t boast superior coding experience to develop terrific headers. Boxmode’s website builder has a handy and fully customizable Header Widget that lets you easily create and test different header designs without bothering with coding.
Website Header Design Tips
Creating a website header with the help of Boxmode WYSIWYG website builder is an intuitive process (because What You See Is What You Get). However, to get it right, you still need to know and follow the best practices. So how to make a website header that’s impressive and easy to understand at the same time? Below are website header tips from our professional designers.
Opt for solid and readable fonts
The best font for website headers is the one that users read at a glance. Save your favorite stylized fonts for other website sections because your header must be a place of pure focus. Experiment with bold colors to make your brand identity shine but not at the cost of readability.
Switch over to the unboring background
Today, visuals spoil users (thanks, Instagram!). So it is inevitable that growing numbers of designers are using stunning, high-resolution images as a website header background. The quality bar is high. So if your brand is up for the challenge, you have a few options here.
Using a transparent header lets your images shine through without giving up the main links. (When using a sticky transparent header, ensure your links do not lose background as your images move).
Adding an image carousel to a header is another clever solution that lets you communicate your message in a visual in an engaging and easy-to-scan form in just seconds.
Add dynamics with video and animation elements
Among all kinds of visual content, video is the easiest to relate to because it contains more “life.” It makes a website video header a perfect option for brands that expect a strong emotional response from their audiences. The video background can highlight your company or a product enabling your users to plunge into your world from the first moment on your website.
Animation is another type of header graphics that helps add surprise and dynamics to the user experience and makes your message more memorable.
Ensure hassle-free navigation
As we already mentioned, one of the primary website header purposes is navigation. But how exactly can you make it hassle-free? These website header ideas will help you make your navigation flawless:
- Use hover effects to highlight important links and direct visitors. For mobile screens, use underlining or ripple effect (color change effect) instead.
- An expandable menu (a “hamburger” button ☰) is the best option for graphics-rich, promotional sites with a focus on the main screen. Online stores can benefit from such brevity too, but they still need a full-fledged search field and a shopping cart button.
- For a content-rich ecommerce or service website with long scrolling, use a sticky (or fixed) header to make navigation easy from any point on a page. It lets you keep your CTA or shopping cart right before your users’ eyes.
Test different sizes
Your header doesn’t have to be the same size on every page of your website. You can accompany your larger home page header design by reduced header versions on other pages as long as the overall design is consistent. Analyzing your website pages’ purpose can help you choose the right header size.
Screens come not only in different screen sizes but also in different resolutions. Unfortunately, it means there is a nearly infinite number of screen versions. So you will probably have to test different resolutions to find a perfect one.
The website header width of 1024 pixels is the most popular and good to use. However, to ensure your header correctly displays on higher-resolution screens, you can go up to 1920 pixels. The common header dimensions are the following:
- One-third of a page: 1024x256px, 1280x267px, 1366x256px, 1440x300px, 1600x300px, 1920x360px.
- Half page: 1024x384px, 1280x400px, 1366x384px, 1440x450px, 1600x450px, 1920x540px.
- Full page (hero header): 1024x768px, 1280x800px, 1366x768px, 1440x900px, 1600x900px, 1920x1080px.
Awesome Website Header Design Examples
1) Hero header by Pierre’s
Ice cream manufacturers’ websites must be tasty by definition, and Pierre’s got it just right with its huge hero header. It features a semi-transparent menu bar and a carousel of four eye-candy images of the iconic products that contain links to product descriptions.
2) Minimalistic header by Ready
This absolutely concise, decluttered website header perfectly conveys the idea of a calendar that regulates your schedule by removing “bad” meetings and restoring balance in life. It contains nothing but a memorable full-page image, logo, slogan, and laconic “We’re Hiring” CTA.
3) Fixed sidebar header by True to Form
True to Form design studio breaks the ground with its sticky sidebar header that contains only an animated logo, contacts, and two social media links. This trick helps its central impressive earthlike animation rule on the page.
4) Slogan-focused header by Baianat
Its huge and high-contrast slogan rocks thanks to a neat navigation bar containing a menu, search field, language bar, and login icon. It’s interesting to note, the header features both words and icons, changes its color from transparent to solid as you scroll, and swaps the reading direction as you switch to Arabic.
5) Artistic header by Guilbo
All headers examples pale against this creative, ambitious, and beautiful portfolio website header that breathes French elegance and highlights the artist’s dazzling personality. You do not even have to speak French to easily navigate the site using its intuitive, easy-to-grasp shopping cart and two-stripes menu icons. The hovering navigation effects are simply impressive.
A Website Header Is Where User Experience Starts. Why Not Make It Spectacular?
Experimenting with different header designs and navigation tricks, you can find the best combination of brand style and usability that will make your users come back for more.
Make sure you read our post on creative website footers. It’s another crucial website part that, if taken right, can help you make a powerful impression.