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Why Social Media Icons Should Not Be Placed in Website Headers

Updated: Jan 12


cathleen barnes consulting showing website header with no social media icons  as an example for best practice


Social media is an integral part of our online presence. It allows us to connect, share, and engage with a global audience. It's no wonder that many businesses and individuals prominently display social media icons on their websites. However, there's a growing debate about whether the website header is the best place for them. In this post, I will explore why it might not be the best practice to put your social media icons in the header of your website and instead suggest some alternative placements that can yield better results.

Cluttered Design

One of the primary reasons to avoid placing social media icons in your website header is the risk of cluttering your design. Website headers are valuable real estate, typically reserved for the most critical elements like your logo, navigation menu, and a call-to-action. When you add social media icons to the mix, it can make the header appear crowded and overwhelming, distracting visitors from your primary content and calls-to-action.

Decreased Loading Speed

Including social media icons in your header can also negatively impact your website's loading speed. Each icon often requires additional resources to load, such as external scripts and stylesheets, which can slow down your website's performance. In an era where users expect fast-loading websites, every millisecond counts. Placing social media icons in the header can jeopardize the overall user experience.

Reduced Brand Focus

Your website header plays a crucial role in establishing your brand identity. Placing social media icons there can divert attention away from your brand's logo and slogan. Visitors might be more likely to click on a social media icon and leave your website instead of engaging with your core content.

Inconsistent User Experience

Social media icons in the header can disrupt the consistency of your website's user experience. Users have come to expect certain elements in website's header, such as the logo and navigation menu. When you move these elements around or introduce new ones, it can confuse visitors and make navigation more challenging.

Drives Visitor Away From Your Site

Perhaps the most compelling reason to avoid social media icons in your website header is that it can drive visitors away from your site. The ultimate goal of your website is to keep visitors engaged and encourage them to explore your content, products, or services. When social media icons are prominently displayed in the header, they can act as exit ramps for your visitors, leading them to external platforms where their attention may be diverted elsewhere.

Where Should You Place Your Social Media Icons

Instead of the header, consider alternative placement for your social media icons:

  1. Footer: Placing social media icons in the footer is a common practice. It keeps them accessible without overwhelming the header and complements the user experience.

  2. Sidebar: On blogs and content-heavy websites, a sidebar can be an effective location for social media icons, as long as they don't obstruct the primary content.

  3. Contact Page: Reserve your social media icons for your contact page. This encourages visitors to connect with you after exploring your site's content.

  4. Pop-ups or Slide-ins: Use non-intrusive pop-ups or slide-ins to promote your social media profiles when a visitor has engaged with your content or reached the end of a page.

  5. Dedicated Page: Create a dedicated "Connect with Us" page where you showcase your social media profiles, allowing visitors to explore and engage at their convenience.

While social media icons are essential for expanding your online reach, their placement in your website's header may not be the most effective strategy. Consider the potential drawbacks of cluttered design, slower loading times, and distractions from your brand focus. Opt for alternative placements that provide a seamless and unobtrusive user experience, while still encouraging visitors to connect with your social media channels. By doing so, you can strike a better balance between your website's design and your social media marketing efforts.

cathleen barnes, web designer, sitting at desk


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