The Basic Parts That Make Up Most Websites in 2023
Updated: Nov 17, 2022
If you want your website to offer a great experience for visitors and effectively represent you and your brand, there are some essential elements your website should have. We'll explain some of a website's basic and advanced parts and break down some jargon around web design concepts. Here are some elements that help make a website successful in 2023:
Getting Your Site Up and Running
Before we get into website design, here are a couple of terms to be familiar with as you get started creating your site:
1. Web hosting
Believe it or not, your website actually takes up storage space. All websites are stored somewhere on a server, a computer that saves information so that it can be located reliably. In other words, a web host is where your website "lives" after it's published. When you create and publish a website with CIS Agency, your website is hosted by Wix, so you never have to worry about where your website is stored.
2. Domain name
A domain name allows visitors to find you easily online. Your domain name is essentially your site's address online; it's the string of characters that will bring visitors to your site and no one else's. Each website has a unique one so that the same address doesn't lead to different sites. Your domain name may be the same as your business name, or it may be different. For example, at CIS Agency, our domain name is wearecis.com. This is the unique address that will lead to our website. We can help you purchase a domain name to help your customers find you online.
Website Design Basics
Now let's get into the basics of designing an effective website. Here are some of the elements every website needs:
1. Header & Menu
The header is the design element that appears at the top of most websites. It usually contains the menu and provides a way for visitors to navigate different parts of the site. It may also contain your logo, business name, and other information you want visitors to find immediately.
The menu may look different depending on your website's purpose. It usually shows your most important pages to help users navigate between them. Or, it may show categories of pages instead. Clicking these categories can reveal drop-down lists under each one or lead to a page that connects visitors with other related pages. Overall, your menu shows users how your website is organized and allows them to find all the different content on your site.
Underneath the header, most websites include some sort of eye-catching image-whether it's one image, a slideshow, or a video. This image is often called the featured visual, and it helps establish your brand's identity. Whether it showcases some of your products, demonstrates what industry you're part of, or establishes a tone for your business, the featured visual is worth choosing carefully to provide the best representation of you to visitors. The header and featured visuals are often called the "above the fold" portion of your website, as they are the first thing site visitors see.
Content generally refers to the words or text on your website. All sites need good quality content to explain who you are, what you offer to customers, and how customers can access your services or products. Your website may need a wide range of content, from your mission statement, about section paragraphs, and product or service listings to single words on menu buttons and instructions such as "learn more" or "buy now" that help visitors take action.
Content also makes your website searchable. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) describes methods of making your website easy to find on search engines like Google. Part of SEO involves writing high-quality text content that includes common keywords people search to find services similar to yours and content that is useful and relevant to your site's visitors. Whether for site navigation or SEO, good content is crucial for a successful website.
The footer appears at the bottom of your website. It often contains a sitemap linking to the different pages of your site, your contact information, and icons that connect visitors to your social media platforms. Because they're not as flashy, footers may not seem as exciting as the other parts of your website. But including thoughtful information and navigation elements in the footer allows visitors to simply scroll all the way down to find your contact info or reorient themselves if they get lost in the navigation. It also drives more traffic to your social media pages if you have them.
Lastly, layout refers to the arrangement of the different parts of your website or how your site is organized. Your site may have multiple pages or just a single page with anchor links in the header that allows visitors to jump to a certain section on the page. A thoughtful layout helps you include all the content you need while making it easy for visitors to navigate without being overwhelmed or confused.
Advanced Website Design Elements
Although the above parts make up a simple but complete website, there are some. other optional elements that can take your website to the next level.
A logo helps customers recognize your brand. On a website, the logo usually appears in the top left corner and links back to the home page if clicked.
Don't have a logo and are unsure how to start designing one? We can help! Ask about CIS Agency's logo design services.
Calls-to-action (or CTAs) are short bits of text that invite site visitors to do something. These can be formatted as clickable "buttons" on your site that take users to the next step in interacting with your business. For example, a button with the text "learn more" might lead to an information page, "schedule an appointment" might lead to an online booking page, and "contact us" could lead to a page with your phone number or contact form. CTA's are important in encouraging site visitors to convert to paying customers.
Adding online forms can be another way for visitors to interact with you. Forms collect different types of information from visitors. Two common uses for forms include contact forms--where visitors can ask a question, leave a comment, or request a service directly from your site--and sign-up forms, where customers can subscribe to a blog, newsletter, loyalty program, etc.
Some websites contain a sidebar, a column typically on the right side of the screen that provides other helpful navigation links. These are often seen on blogs and may contain a search bar or links to articles with similar topics. They also may be a good space to display advertisements or sign-up options without interrupting a visitor scrolling through your main content.
And finally, blogs are an increasingly popular add-on to business websites. While they can stand alone, a blog page can also be a corner of your website where you provide useful articles on your products, industry topics, or other content relevant to your audience. A well-written blog can both help give more information to customers already on your site and help those looking for information discover your site for the first time.
Want a gorgeous website that has all the essential parts you need? At CIS Agency, we create custom sites that are ready to go. See CIS Agency's Custom Wix Templates or contact us to customize your website fully.