9 tips on how to build the perfect header

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7 minutes reading


There are no second chances at making a first impression. That’s just as true when you meet a business partner in person as when you greet your potential customers on your website. Having a welcoming, well-maintained, and easily navigable website is the first step toward a successful online business.

Of course, the first thing users will see is the Hero section. This part should be stunning, to the point, and entertaining. But once you capture your customer’s attention, you need to be able to redirect them to where they need to go. This is where your header comes in.

Your header contains some of the most important pieces of your presentation—your logo, menu, CTA, and others. It is a part of your website that constantly hovers during the user’s journey, reminding them precisely where they are and giving them quick options to navigate where they need to go.

Of course, to be effective, a header needs to be well-thought-out, structured, and designed. Otherwise, your customers will likely feel lost and bounce, as they won’t have quick and easy access to what they seek.

To avoid this fate, we’ve prepared nine tips that will help you build a website header that will glue users to your website, help them find the needed information, and push them along on their customer journey. But before discussing the design, let’s elaborate on the why.

Why Do You Need A Header

The header is, without a doubt, one of the most important aspects of your website. It serves several crucial functions related to marketing, sales, SEO, and overall website usability. Branding takes a central stage in the header, as it hosts the brand logo. Naturally, this element quickly draws attention, so you need to do it right to impress your audience. It also serves as a reminder of where users are.

Currently, most users have an average of 5-10 open tabs on their browsers. When looking for a product or a service, the number of open tabs often doubles, making it hard for users to track precisely which website they are currently on. A well-designed header will mitigate this problem, constantly reminding the user which brand provides the solution they are looking at. Combining this with a well-designed menu, strategically placed CTA, and a strong message and visual hierarchy, the header can also be a strong ally in your sales process.

Open tabs illustration

However, the true power of the header lies in SEO. Search engines (especially Google) use headers to learn the website’s structure and hierarchy. Although that’s a bit of a stretch, a well-designed website header can help you improve your Google rankings. More often than not, it will just support your outstanding content and showcase it to the crawlers in the way that makes the most sense.

Finally, the header is responsible for your website’s navigability. This is a cornerstone of your website’s UX. So, creating a clear, straightforward, and visually pleasing header will enhance your users’ overall experience. Naturally, this will decrease the bounce rate and allow you to better engage with your customers.

So, now that we know what’s at stake, let’s start creating your perfect header.

Have A Purpose In Mind

Before you start designing your header, you need to be fully aware of what you need it to do. Is it a navigation tool only? Should it help you with your branding? Is it a sales tool? What’s the primary purpose of your header? The answers to all these questions heavily depend on your industry and business. For example, if you are in retail, using your header as a sales tool is definitely a good idea. Adding your shop to the top is a great way to get your customers to your place of business through the fast lane. Moreover, you can add some lucrative promotions, coupons, or seasonal discounts.

However, if you want your header to work mainly as a branding tool, you need to focus on your logo. Make it a bit bigger and add a slogan.

Of course, that doesn’t mean you should neglect the header’s other duties. You still must add a menu and some other key information. Still, keep in mind your header’s purpose, will give you the direction in which way to build it to be most proficient.

HostArmada header screenshot

Take our header, for example. We utilize our header’s branding power with a visible and distinguishable logo to the left, and we also reach its sales potential by highlighting our services with a visually catching “promo” tag. The tag is colored like all our CTA’s, so it subconsciously drives the user to click.

Regardless of how you will utilize your header, it still needs to follow some simple rules if you want it to be effective.

Have The Mobile Version In Mind

In 2023, 64% of people preferred to use their mobile phones to surf the internet. This trend, of course, depends on what industry they are looking for. For example, restaurants got about 72% of all their online visits through mobile phones. Retailers have a smaller percentage, but still, the majority prefers to buy through their phone – 56%. So, it’s hardly a surprise that you need to consider the mobile version of your header before starting its design.

With smaller screens come many limitations, so you need to consider precisely how to build your header to maintain its primary purpose. If you prioritize desktop design with your header on mobile, the header can easily become overwhelming and lead to significant user frustration. Furthermore, some menus can prove difficult to navigate through your phone.

On the other hand, going mobile-first will ensure that the most crucial elements are visible and readable for the majority of your users. Moreover, most mobile-friendly designs translate perfectly to larger screens and across different devices. Thus, you won’t have to worry whether your customers are browsing through their phone, computer, or tablet.

So, it’s wise to prioritize mobile design while planning your header. Not only will it enhance your website’s usability for the majority of your users, but it will also avoid penalization from Google and other search engines.

Keep Your Logo To The Left

You’ve probably seen those websites with logos stuck on the right or at the center. Those, however, have a very specific design and, more often than not, correspond with another part of the overall hero design. In most cases, placing your logo at the center prohibits you from adding navigation, CTA, or a search bar, as it will make the entire header imbalanced. Logos to the right often target cultures where reading is traditionally from right to left, like Arabic.

Thus, if you are not a designer yourself, we suggest sticking to the classics – logo on the left and navigation on the right. This builds the visual arch of your website. In Western culture, we are used to reading from the left to the right, meaning we instinctively look at the top left corner of the screen whenever we open a new page. Thus, logically, you want your logo to be the first thing users see on your website. That’s branding 101. This creates visual storytelling. In essence, it tells your visitors, “Everything you will see next is associated with our brand.”

Market Bolt header screenshot

This alignment has been used in different media throughout all channels. The same hierarchy is seen in Social Media profiles (where the profile picture is on the left), business cards, traditional ads, and even news channels. As a society, we are used to seeing brands in the top left corner. Thus, your visitors will expect to see your logo precisely on the left of the header. So, don’t disappoint them.

Keep The Menu Straightforward

The left-aligned logo creates a sense of balance for the right-aligned navigation items. Of course, the primary function of the menu is to help your users find what they are looking for as quickly as possible. Naturally, overly complex menus will only hinder this goal.

Furthermore, your menu is a map of your website’s hierarchy. A complex hierarchy often means bad user experience and usability. So, keeping your menu straightforward will instantly increase your entire website’s UX.

Moreover, a cleaner menu will enhance the customer’s journey. Complex menus with numerous nested options can be confusing and mentally taxing for users, hindering their ability to navigate effectively. Thus, they will inevitably tire of your website, disrupting their customer journey.

Home improvement header screenshot

If you use your header as a sales tool, you should, of course, showcase your products. However, this is only eligible if you offer just a few variations, each with a specific landing page. This doesn’t mean, however, that you can stick all your products on the menu. Just add the best sellers or your flagman ship. The rest, the users will find themselves.

And, of course, the straightforward menu will boost your SEO significantly. As we already mentioned, most search engines look at your header to learn about your website’s structure and hierarchy. A messy menu will only confuse the crawlers, making search engines doubt your website’s quality.

Finally, a straightforward menu will significantly reduce the bounce rate. People love to have quick access to the information they need. For example, if your customers are primarily interested in the price of your product, adding such a page to your primary menu will boost your website’s engagement. Naturally, this will enhance both your SEO and your sales. So, keep your menu simple and aligned with your customers’ needs.

Add A CTA

Regardless of your header’s primary goal, a CTA will always be highly beneficial. It clearly directs your customers to the endpoint, allowing them to skip the journey and go straight to the end, regardless of whether they are on your blog, product page, or about page. Naturally, you must consider what CTA you want to place in your header. “Buy now,” for instance, is great if you are offering only one product or service. This way, the user can click and go to the check-out page at any point.

On the other hand, if you have many products, “Go to shop” will be much more efficient. Usually, most websites add a form of “contact us.”

A good tactic is to utilize your customer’s behavior. If most customers use mobile devices when entering your website, a “call” button will enhance conversion rates, making it far easier for them to dial you directly.

Monday header screenshot

Most importantly, however, you must distinguish your CTA from your menu visually. Most often, designers color the button like all other CTAs on the website. This is a great practice, as it instantly draws attention, and customers know precisely what the button does even before they read it.

The best place to put your CTA is at the far right of the header. This is not only where users will expect it to be but also a great counterbalance to the logo, framing the menu between two more colorful items.

Add Hints About Where Users Are

This slight touch will instantly enhance your website’s user experience. All you need is some kind of visual effect that will show where the user is at the moment. It should activate whenever the user enters a page. This way, they can just check the menu in the header and know precisely where they are at the moment. The visual effect should be visible enough to catch attention but not divert it.

Make sure that the effect is visible both on desktop and mobile. For example, changing the color or underlining the page where the user is will suffice this task.

mmhmm header screenshot

Though not a big designer change, this hint will allow your users to follow the customer journey without returning to the home page if they get interrupted. This will enhance their experience and will reduce your bounce rate. Moreover, this will streamline your conversion process, leading to better sales and profits.

Don’t Add Distractions

Speaking of effects, you should definitely go easy on them. Make sure each element in your header has a specific task. Cluttering it will only distract the users from what’s important and will instantly reduce the header’s efficiency. Of course, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t decorate your header. Just make it subtle. Make your decorations count and show your brand values and culture.

Still, as we said in the first tip, keep your head in the game and make sure to follow your goals. Having something pretty is good, but having an efficient header is even better.

Paper Source header screenshot

The Paper Source is an excellent example of a cluttered header. It effectively has two menus, two additional deals, and a giant logo that overshadows everything else. This is a great example of how more is less. They added 16 categories in two different menus. Moreover, they visually distinguished three items, each one with a different color or text size. In other words, the entire header is a total mess.

So, make sure to know what’s important to your audience and concentrate on that. The rest has its place either in the footer or in a subcategory.

Don’t Experiment With Fonts

Though it may sound tempting, keep your fonts consistent throughout your website. Still, sometimes, your content is long and wordy. This requires smaller and narrower fonts, which are not great for menus. Still, even if you need a different font for your header, keep it consistent, clear, and within the same font family as the rest. For example, if your website’s font is Helvetica (which every designer will instantly dismiss), you can put the larger Verdana in your menu. Both are from the Sans-Serif font family, as is Arial.

You may feel the urge to express your uniqueness and creativity with some cursive or fantasy fonts. That’s OK, of course. Still, make sure the font is easily readable and clear. When it comes to the header, being readable takes priority over being visually stunning.

Keep It Visible When Scrolling

Finally, always anchor your header to the top of the screen. This way, your users will be able to get valuable information even when they scroll down. Moreover, sticking your header to the top of the screen will allow users to have instant access to your call to action and other pages along the way.

Host Armada header screenshot

So, for instance, if a potential customer is looking at testimonials and one of your previous clients mentions your affordable prices, this will instantly spark interest in the user. Naturally, you can capitalize on that emotional surge by offering quick access to your price list through themenu.

So, glue your header to the top of the screen and give your readers instant access to every page they want to visit.

Some final thoughts

The header is, without a doubt, a game-changer on your website. Still, its significance pales compared to other aspects, such as website speed, reliability, and security. These, however, are mostly affected by your hosting. Thus, even if you have a stunning header, a poor hosting service will ruin your chances of growing as fast as you otherwise can.

HostArmada can help you mitigate this crisis. Our cloud-based hosting services guarantee lightning-fast website loading time, 99.9% uptime, and state-of-the-art security. So, before you refurbish your header, focus on securing the best hosting services on the market. Check out our plans and choose the one that will fit your needs perfectly.