The Benefits of a Fixed Header Bar
- Matthew Hall
- June 27, 2013
In recent years fixed header bars have been one of the most popular trends in the world of web design. By using simple CSS coding, web designers can staple header bars to the top of the screen so that users never lose sight of them when they scroll down a web page. This is particularly useful for websites that incorporate their navigational links into their header bars. In this article we will examine the benefits of fixed header bars and how they can be used to improve user experience.
Social media websites like Facebook and Twitter use fixed headers. No matter how far down a page your scroll to check out your friends’ updates and tweets, you can still view the header with navigational links to your profile and account settings.
Navigation is one of your website’s most critical elements. It must be easy to access and use so that users can reach the information they need in as little time as possible. If a website’s navigation is too complicated, users will simply click off and look for the information they need elsewhere. Having a fixed header with navigational elements makes it easier for users to route their way around a website. There will be no need for them to scroll back up to the top of a web page, because the fixed header will always be in sight.
Fixed headers are used on websites and blogs of all kinds, but they are particularly useful on lengthy pages that require a lot of scrolling. Website owners need to make it as easy as possible for users to access the information they need in as little clicks as possible. Having a fixed header with navigational elements is a fantastic solution.
There are similarities between websites with fixed headers and computer programs like word processors or photo manipulation software. Think of it like this, if you were preparing a document with over thirty pages, you would not want to have to scroll all the way up those thirty pages, just to click the ‘B’ icon that would enable you to put a sub heading in bold. This is the same for the users of a website. They do not want to have to scroll all the way to the top of a website just so they can find the link for your contact page or e-commerce store. By simply having the header fixed to the top of the screen, users can navigate deeper into your website in minimal time.
Fixed headers work similarly to the tool bars in programs like Word and Photoshop.
As well as providing advantages like quick and easy navigation, fixed headers also have brand building benefits. A website’s header will usually include their brand name and logo, so if you were to fix the header to the top of the screen, this would keep the branding of your website at the front and center of your users’ attention at all times. The more users see your branding (whether they are consciously looking at it or not) the more likely they are to remember it and recognize it in the future.
Improves user experience
Using a fixed header will ensure that users always feel in control throughout the viewing process of your website. User control is something that is extremely important to a website’s overall user experience. No one wants to feel like they lack control after all! It is likely that users will be visiting your website for a specific reason or purpose, so it is essential that you meet their needs and requirements as efficiently as possible. Having a fixed header on your website will enable you to cut down their scrolling and searching time, enabling them to locate the information they need with minimal effort.
The better user experience you provide through your website, the more likely it is that users will return to your website and recommend it to other people. Search engines also value user experience as an important part of their search ranking criteria, so tweaking your website could make a big difference in terms of SEO.
Things to consider
Before making any changes to the header and navigational elements of your website, it is important to consider how your website will look on different screen sizes and in different web browsers. You may find that the CSS coding needs tweaking in order for your website to be optimized for viewing on smartphones and tablets. You do not want your fixed header to take up the whole screen after all.
Fixed header bars are a growing web design trend and certainly look like they are here to stay. They add value to most modern web designs, in terms of both usability and aesthetics. Not only do they help to improve the overall user experience of a website, but they are also enable companies to keep their branding in their users’ sight throughout the viewing process.
Matthew Hall works at Hallway Studios, a creative digital agency offering web design in Hertfordshire. Started in 2001, Hallway Studios is an integrated agency focused on blending creative design with excellent development and promotion.
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