Essential Parts of a Website
By Amanda Weiner
As Aristotle famously taught us, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. But of course, that doesn't mean we can ignore the importance of those parts. This is especially true when it comes to websites. Great websites are composed of multiple amazing parts that seamlessly fit together to create a holistic representation of your brand.
In order to help you understand the various parts of a website, we’re going to break them down and elaborate on their purpose. This article will cover the main components of sites as well as some important web design jargon to help you get through the design process. If you’re looking to cut to the chase and create a website with a tool that will ensure that all website parts are accounted for, we suggest using the Wix website builder.
Basic parts of a website
There are some components of websites that are so essential to web design that all sites must contain them in order to function properly. Together these parts form the backbone of your website:
01. Header & menu
The header is the uppermost part of a website. It’s often the first thing that visitors see when they enter a site and almost always contains the brand’s logo as well as the website menu. This website menu is the map of the site that helps visitors find what they’re looking for, whether it’s details about your product or information about your company.
Typical headers include your most essential web pages, which may vary depending on the type of website you’re creating. If you have an online store, for instance, you might divide your header into categories based on the types of items that you sell. On the other hand, if you have a nonprofit website, a donation page in the header would likely be more appropriate. Put bluntly, including the proper categories in the header is essential in helping visitors find your most important pages and can ultimately make the difference between a successful and an unsuccessful website.
Immediately below the header is some form of image, series of images or sometimes a video. Together, the header and main image comprise the top section of your website - often referred to as above the fold - and are essential in creating a good first impression. The featured visual, in particular, makes a marked difference in whether users stay on your website or abandon seconds after entering.
With that in mind, this visual should convey something important about your company. Whether it features images of your products or services, or just gives the user a feel of what your brand is about, it is important that it relates to your site as a whole. We suggest choosing your best images or browsing the images and videos available through Wix to give your website a professional edge.
03. Website content
All sites contain content. Content typically means the words written on your site that explain what your website is about, what you have to offer and how site visitors can take advantage of your offerings. Website content covers a wide array of things. It often refers to the paragraphs that explain your site’s mission, but it can also mean the one word that is placed on your buttons.
While short content on buttons or menus may seem insignificant, it is actually the driving force of sites. This is the content that makes it clear what site visitors should expect when they click, such as “Buy now” or “Shopping cart”. Take the time to carefully plan out your website content to ensure that any site visitor can understand your brand as well as you do.
Simply put, a footer is the bottom most part of any site. It usually contains a sitemap with links to the pages available on your site. This can help visitors find all of your offerings, including those that may not have made the cut for your header.
Often website footers also contain basic contact information, enabling users to reach out to you or find your physical storefront. This type of information is crucial for business success.
Footers also might include a social bar that contains small but recognizable icons that lead users to your social media pages. This can help you gain followers on social media platforms, ultimately bringing about greater brand awareness and potential business growth.
Advanced parts of a website
If you were to just include the website parts mentioned above, you’d already have a complete site. However, if you want to take your site to the next level, we suggest adding the following parts as well:
An essential element of any brand, a logo is also a standard part of a website. A logo represents the company and makes it recognizable and memorable to both current and potential customers. Typically logos can be found in the top left hand corner of the website header and are usually clickable to help visitors return to the site’s homepage. To get started on your logo, and easily embed it on your site, you can use a logo maker that automatically generates a custom logo for you.
A CTA, or call-to-action, is a short piece of text that helps customers take the next step with your business and move down your sales funnel. CTAs are typically displayed on buttons and contain actionable words like “Start now” or “Buy yours”. This type of text directs users to take a specific action and tells them exactly what to expect when they click on a button.
CTAs are important parts of websites because they enable visitors to actually use or buy your service or product. Without these buttons, you could see fewer sales and a higher rate of customers leaving your site without converting.
Often websites will use a sidebar, or a horizontal bar typically on the right side of screens that contain more links or information. A sidebar is meant to act as another navigation facet of your site, enabling visitors to find information that is important, but less critical than the information in your header.
Typically, sidebars contain links to other content on your site, a way to sign up to your newsletter, and advertisements. Utilizing this space for ads is a good way to monetize your website and help you grow your business. Alternatively, you can advertise your own products in this space, making them easily visible to site visitors even before they see your product page.
Blogs are essentially groupings of articles or posts on a variety of topics that are all related to your business. These days, it’s increasingly common for businesses to add a blog to their site. While blogs can stand on their own, they also can be added as an additional part of an existing website, functioning as a marketing asset for your company.
Adding a blog to your website is a good way to accomplish a couple of goals. First, it provides more in-depth information to your customers about your offerings or industry. By providing this information, you are nurturing your customers and helping them understand your business better.
A blog can also help bring more traffic to your website. By covering a variety of topics in depth, blogs can provide the answers to many questions that people search for on Google. When you answer these questions, you help attract people who may not have found your business otherwise.
Online forms are generally used to gather information. On websites, they can be embedded and used for a number of different purposes. For example, you might consider including a contact form, which enables visitors to contact you directly from your site. Another type of form, such as a signup form, can help you gather leads by asking visitors for their information.
Depending on the type of form that you choose to use, you might consider placing them in different areas of your site. Generally speaking, a form might be a bit too aggressive for the homepage, but it can take a spot on a separate web page or perhaps lower down on your site.
Layout of website parts
Now that you’ve determined which parts of a website you’ll need, you might be wondering how to organize them. There are many different website layouts, each of which has its own benefits and keeps your website orderly.
The most classic website layout contains a homepage and multiple web pages that enable you to find the information you’re looking for. Another option, however, is a one-page website design. This type of website places all the information on one long, scrolling page. The advantage of this layout option is that everything that a visitor might be looking for can be found in one place. When utilizing this website layout, make clear distinctions between the sections, and help visitors navigate to these sections by including anchor links in the header.
Additional website necessities
There are a few items that are not a part of the web design itself, but are essential in ensuring that your site is up and running. While this list is in no way exhaustive, familiarizing yourself with these concepts is a good way to start your website creation journey.
01. Web hosting
Web hosting is simply where your website lives online. Although it doesn’t seem like it, all websites take up space on servers, or computers that act as storage units and provide information to other computers. These servers ensure that your website is alive and well and available when people search for it.
With Wix, free web hosting is built in so whenever you create and publish your website, it will automatically be hosted. That means you won’t have to worry about finding an external host or paying for a third party service.
02. Domain names
You may have heard the word domain thrown around in the website world. A domain is simply the web address of your site. It is often the same as the company name and gives your website a unique access point online. If your brand is called Rosa, for example, your domain might be something like rosa.org or rosa.com.
We highly recommend getting a unique domain name so that people can easily find and remember your site. For example, when you want to search for something or get more information, the first site that comes to mind is google.com. This type of domain recall and knowledge can help bring more success to websites.
SEO, or search engine optimization, is the process of making your site findable on search engines. It involves optimizing the content, images, design and structure of your site to ensure that search engines are understanding your website well. This, in turn, enables Google to serve your website in response to relevant search queries.
SEO is a complex world that encompasses many things. If you are new to the world of SEO, we suggest utilizing the Wix SEO Wiz, which helps you get indexed on Google. It also provides some actionable suggestions for how you can tweak your site to help it rank higher.
Image Credits Featured Image: WIX
Amanda Weiner - Content Optimization Specialist
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