Design Elements


Let’s break down what makes a website

web design elements

This page is a glossary and web 101, to help communicate each distinct part of your site. We hope this information provides common ground with you, as we determine your needs and work on your site.

Parts of a Site


The platform is the structure on which a website is built. At it’s simplest it can be HTML and CSS. Other platforms we like to use include WordPress, Shopify, and Magento. And others we have worked with include Drupal, Joomlah, Blackboard and more.


The theme is a collection of styles and code that determines the look and feel of your site. Themes can be purchased to start your sitebuild, we then install and customize themes to meet your custom needs. When we look for themes, we look for function, knowing we can customize any theme to look the way we want. Does you site have a hundred or more articles? Does your site sell products? Is your site focused on donations or a reservation system? We look for a theme built to accommodate your needs.

Page Templates

In each theme, we build or customize page templates. These lay out a page in specific ways, such as full screen, right sidebar, left and right sidebars and more.

Plugins, Apps, Extensions

Features and function, WordPress calls them plugins, Shopify calls them apps, and Magento calls them extensions. To provide functionality we turn to third party developers who make bits of software that work on your platform to perform a specific task. Ninja Forms lets us create very detailed contact forms, Post Carousel, lets us easily display your news, Galleries for photos, calendars, scheduling, memberships, and so much more. When we design and build your site, we discover, install, setup and maintain these tools for you. Some are free, others are paid.

Home Page

The home page is almost always styled differently than other pages, your home page should quickly identify who you are, what you do and who your audience is. We think the home page can also offer a window into each section of your site, so that you can get a snapshot of what we can expect to find in the entire site.

Category Pages

The category page is different from other pages in that it offers a window into all the pages within the category. It can contain a slider or hero section, articles or posts. Categories can also serve as content buckets that channel different audiences to the parts of your site they are interested in.

Parts of a Page


The ribbon is a thin strip that alerts users to important info—offers, contact info, timely events and more. Often, we add this to the top of a site for extra impact in a condensed area.


The header is a block on the top, or head, of your site. Usually, your logo and navigation menu live here. The header is site-wide, and the same content appears on every page.


The menu is your site navigation, some themes have multiple menus. Normally we see top nav, bottom nav, or category menus that might live in the sidebar.


The hero is a big bold section, usually below the header, designed for maximum visibility. This first message may be all someone looks at to see if they are interested in what your site offers. Here we make the pitch and identify who we are.


The slider or slideshow is often the hero section. Sliders show multiple messages and images, are very visual, and are often animated.

Above the Fold

Above the fold is a newspaper or magazine term, and means what we see first, the top section of your site, before we scroll down. An important design concept, we like to make intentional use of this space to get your message out quickly and concisely.

Main Content

After all the fun stuff on top, we finally get to the main content on a page. Self explanatory, yes?

Call to Action

The CTA is visually set apart to draw attention. What do we want someone to do as a result of visiting this page? The Call to Action is the offer—Buy our product, Click here for more info, or Submit a form. Every page should have one CTA, but too many, and we lose focus.

Contact Form

The Contact Form is another important conversion. We need visitors to communicate with us, ask us for more information and tell us how we can help. These can be very simple or complex and multi page.

Newsletter Sign-Up

The Newsletter and Email Marketing is a proven, effective tool. We want to give users the opportunity to sign-up, so we can send communication. We always want to be Opt-In, we ask permission to mail and never abuse the privilege.


People respond to offers. Offers turn browsers into customers.

Additional Sections

In addition to the main content, we can always offer additional sections on a page, particularly on the home page.


The sidebar is a section on the left, right side of your site, or both. WordPress makes great use of sidebars, letting us direct visitors to offers, CTAs, forms and more.


The footer is the bottom section of your site—Header, Main Content, Footer. Footers can be simple or contain lots of info. Footers are site-wide, and they appear on every page.

Bottom Menu

Often we place secondary navigation in the footer. Bottom nav is often different from top nav, perhaps showing less common links, like Company Info, Employment and more.

Legal Line

Last but not least, the legal line identifies who owns the site. It can contain disclaimers or link to Privacy or Terms of Use copy.