No matter what your website pages are like, they will always have one thing in common - a header (also a footer, but we will be covering it at a later date). Your header is one of the first things a visitor sees. It's the most prevalent element of the whole site. It plays a part in determining whether someone will stick around your website of click the back arrow and leave. Forever.
And yet we tend to pay little thought to website headers, taking them for granted. Here is a break down of what a header needs to include and how you can "win the header game".†
Anatomy of a Header
Find your balance (Too much info vs too little)
Your website header should provide all the necessary info a visitor needs to comfortably navigate your site. Often, our first impulse is to include every page link in the top menu. Just in case someone might be looking for it. However, this will have the opposite effect - a person is likely to get lost in too many choices and too much information. Once someone is overwhelmed and confused, they are more likely to leave your website for good.†
For your header menu, only select the most important pages your visitor would need. The rest of page links can go into sub menus, in the footer, or within the text of other pages.†
Be Reachable (Add your phone number)
Put your phone number on the header if:
- you work with people in person
- they call you to ask questions or book services over the phone anyway
- you actually answer your phone†
You don't have to put your phone number up if:
- your business is mostly online-based
- you mostly do e-commerce
- you don't answer unknown numbers and hate talking in general
Displaying your phone number at the top of every page (aka in the header) makes your company look trustworthy.
When someone knows they can talk to you if needed (as opposed to sending an e-mail off into the ether, wondering if it will ever reach its destination), they see your business as more reliable. Which is always a good thing.†
Tell them what to do (Call to action)
What do you want people to do after visiting your website? Book Meet & Greet? Schedule a grooming appointment? Buy a service package?
Add a button to your website header that says exactly what you want people to do: "Get Started", "Book Meet and Greet", etc. Make stand out visually.
Do not rely on just saying "Contact" or "Connect" as your call to action. Those words sound too vague and indirect. It is a lot more effective to tell people exactly what you want them to do. Clarity wins the day. Always.†
Be helpful (Add helpful links to your top header)
Website header is a good place for helpful links your visitors might need. These are the links that normally are not included in your main menu. For example, you can put up a login link to your online booking portal. If you are selling products online, your links can be "My Account", "Shopping Cart", "Size Chart", etc.
Be social (list your social links, or not)
Adding social media links to your header is a popular trend. But like any trend, it does not always suit you (and your business).
If you are a social media hero who posts daily and gets a lot of engagement, then definitely add your links to the header. But if social media is rather low on your priority list, then footer might be more appropriate for the social media links. Don't clutter your valuable header real estate.
Modify your logo (if necessary)
A lot of logos look great on business cards, but don't fit website headers that much. You want your logo to be wide and short. I know, it sounds like the opposite of sexy, but, believe me, it will make you (and your website visitors) happy.
Your logo determines the height of your header. Keep it relatively short, especially if you are using a "fixed header" (the one that stays visible on the page as you scroll down). Do not let the header cover a good chunk of your page. After all, you want bring attention to the page content, not your company logo.
If you have a logo with elaborate detail that does not look good scaled down, then you need to modify it for the header (only). Make it wider and shorter, simplify it, leaving out any unnecessary detail. Remember, most people will see your website on their mobile device. Your logo has to be readable on a small screen.
Pay attention to your header. Clean it up. Take out clutter. Make every link count. And this is how you win the header game.