Web Design Standards in 2020

I generally tell website clients from the start that even though I’ve worked with hundreds of web design projects over the years, I’m not a trained ‘designer’ formally. Many times, that’s okay because we all know what we like on a web page even if we don’t know what the current web design standards are.

Oftentimes, clients might say something like, “why don’t we try this logo over here” or “why not change the navigation and move it over here”, etc. I can make suggestions based on my personal preference, but in the end it’s always the call of the client no matter what argument I might put up.

Web Design Standards 2019The main reason that web designers (aside from color and font selections, etc) tend to stick with certain user interface elements in certain places the majority of the time is because they work.

That is, certain elements (like a logo) are in certain places because it’s ‘kind of a standard’ if you will. A design ‘standard’ is something that website visitors are very comfortable with and easily accept visit after visit no matter the website.

For instance, you won’t find find many websites (if any…ever) prominently featuring the company logo in the bottom right section of the footer. There are reasons for that aside being somewhat logical to most folks.

In the case of the study below (a study of the top 50 marketing websites examined against this list of 10 different practices, standard means at least 80% of the sites are in alignment with the practice in question.)

Design standards, though not always followed, help people get where they need to go on a website. Standards help us feel much better about the decisions that we make when it comes to our web projects and layouts. There is nothing worse that trying to navigate through pages that follow no logic or that are so ‘cute’ they are confusing…..goodbye new website visitor, goodbye potential conversion.

I remember the early days in website building when it seemed like every other site I ran across was displaying the ‘animated fire GIF’ (dancing flames) on the home page for no other reason than that they had figured out how to place that thing on the page!

So, let’s take a quick look at some web design standards that you may or may not be aware of. It was refreshing to see some of the list items below highlighted formally even though these are things that just seem to make sense (likely because I’ve seem them a million times on a multitude of websites through the years.)

Web Design Standards Study Results

1. Logo Placement

Logo is located in the top left corner of the page.  This practice was confirmed 100% of the time so I’d say it’s accepted practice in web design standards for 2020.


2. Contact Information Placement

Many sites have contact information in the upper right hand corner, but according to the study this was not standard among most marketing websites with less than half.


3. Main Navigation Placement

Navigation links generally run horizontally across the top of the page, standard at 88% of marketing sites studied.


4. Home Page Slideshow

Should your site have a rotating slider on the home page?  Only 32% of marketing sites studied did, not a standard although it seems like many sites I see have this…the trend is actually more toward one static image these days.


5. Value Proposition High Up On Page

Roughly 8 out of 10 sites contained a value proposition ‘above the fold’ or clearly within eyesight when opening the home page.  The other 2 had no value proposition visible at all.


6. Call To Action High Up On Page

Roughly 78% of sites contained a call to action element ‘above the fold’ or clearly within eyesight when opening the home page.  This is less than minimum for ‘standard practice’ but highly recommended!


7. Search in Global Header

About every other site had some sort of global search in the header of every page.  Smaller sites don’t necessarily need search, however, it is very convenient for larger ones!


8. Sign Up Box in Footer

Roughly 1 site in 4 gave users the ability to sign up for a marketing newsletter from a sign up box in the footer of the site. The most common content for footers is copyright, privacy, legal, sitemap and contact links.


9. Social Media Icons in Footer

Almost 80% of sites had social media icons in the footer which is practically a standard, the others had them in the header.  Visitors need to be able to access social, but the goal is time on the website!


10. Social Media Icons in Header

About 1 in 4 sites chose to put social icons in clear view up in the header.  This goes against the majority who prefer to make them accessible but not prominent down in the footer.