When people think of web design, if they ever do, most are instinctively drawn to discuss the core visual elements of typography, color, and photography—and also video, these days. And rightly so, as those core elements carry most of the burden of visual communication in any website’s design. But professional web designers must often incorporate many other types of visual elements to take a company’s web design to the next level.

Here are some of the often-overlooked elements that can enhance a website’s overall impact, with examples pulled from Rare Bird’s portfolio.

Illustrations and Graphics

Illustrations and graphics are powerful tools for adding personality and visual interest to your website. Icons, for example, can help guide users through your site and provide visual cues for important information. Infographics are an excellent way to present complex data or processes in an easily digestible format. Sketches and drawings can add a unique, hand-crafted feel to your site, while patterns and textures can create depth and visual texture.

Shapes and Lines

Shapes and lines are fundamental building blocks of design that can help guide the user’s eye, create visual hierarchy, and define different sections of your website. Geometric shapes like circles, squares, and triangles can convey a sense of stability and order, while organic shapes can add a more natural, fluid feel to your design. Dividers and separators are useful for creating clear distinctions between different sections of your site, while borders and frames can help highlight important content or create a sense of containment.

White Space (Negative Space)

White space, sometimes referred to as negative space (not to be too negative here) is the area between and around design elements. It’s like the Force: It surrounds the design and binds the galaxy together. Designers use this seemingly “empty” space to provide visual breathing room and help guide the user’s focus. The effective use of margins, padding, and spacing between elements can also make a website feel more open, readable, and user-friendly.

Buttons and Call-to-Action (CTA) Elements

Buttons and call-to-action (CTA) elements are critical for guiding users through your website and encouraging them to take specific actions, like signing up for a newsletter or making a purchase. Styled buttons, with unique colors, shapes, or hover effects, can help draw attention to important CTAs. Ghost buttons, which have a transparent background and a border, can be a subtle way to incorporate additional CTAs without overwhelming the user.

Forms and Input Fields

Forms and input fields are essential for gathering information from your users, whether it’s through a contact form, a search bar, or a checkout process. When designing forms and input fields, designers deeply consider the user experience, making sure those fields are clearly labeled and easy to navigate. Styling the forms and input fields to match a brand’s aesthetic can also help create a cohesive, polished look.

Animations and Micro-Interactions

Animations and micro-interactions are subtle design elements that add a layer of delight and engagement to any website. Loading animations, for example, can help keep users engaged while waiting for content to load. Hover animations can provide visual feedback when a user interacts with a specific element, like a button or a link. Scroll-triggered animations and parallax effects can create a sense of depth and movement as the user navigates through your site. Using animations and micro-interactions sparingly and purposefully is the key, as too many will distract and overwhelm the user. (Which, to be clear, does not improve the user experience.)

Charts and Graphs

Charts and graphs can be useful for presenting data and statistics in a visually engaging way, though not every website needs them, of course. To showcase survey results, sales figures, or user demographics, though, a well-designed chart or graph can help make data more accessible and impactful.

Maps and Location-Based Elements

For business websites that need to convey key information about specific places—such as your doctor’s office or a gas station weirdly known for its delicious tacos—maps and other location-based elements can be incredibly useful for users. With features like zooming and panning, such Interactive maps can help users explore different areas and find relevant information.

Background Elements

Background elements—gradients, overlays, patterns, and textures—can add depth, dimension, and visual interest to a website. When used effectively, they can help create a sense of cohesion and reinforce your brand’s aesthetic. Most designers use them sparingly and purposefully, however, as too many competing background elements can make the content harder to read.

Remember, the key to effective web design is to prioritize the user experience and create a cohesive, purposeful visual language that aligns with your brand’s goals and values. By exploring these other visual elements and using them strategically, designers—like those here at the Midwest’s most trusted marketing firm—take your web design to the next level, creating a memorable and effective website that truly stands out.