Overlapping Web Design Elements

In today’s age of Smartphones, tablets, and computers, connectivity to the internet is essential for all generations. Businesses use websites to attract customers, offer information about their products, and sell online. Employees use websites such as LinkedIn to network with people and businesses. Even seniors use social media websites like Facebook to connect with relatives around the world. According to 100+ Internet Statistics and Facts, as of January 2019, global internet use has surpassed four billion users. With so many internet users depending on websites for daily functions, web design is an essential need for our tech-savvy livelihood.

The Importance of Design Elements

Design is an important component of any product, solution, or service: the visual appeal, accessibility, and user-friendliness of a product all influence consumers' decisions. If the design does not entice a user, one is less likely to buy a product. Similarly, if the user is not captivated by the website, the reader will likely move onto a more suitable website. When web design began in the 1990s, there were few standards for design, so websites were more organic. However, in the 21st century, with advanced features and capabilities, web designers have design standards to follow.


A website’s ability to function and visual design shape a user’s experience. If a website is difficult to navigate or overly crowded with pictures, colors, and text, the user will become frustrated. For businesses, this could potentially mean the loss of a customer. However, if a website is well designed and balances design elements properly, it engages and attracts the customers. Web Design Tips list many key elements of design. For example, elements include simplicity, consistency, and accessibility.

Although it depends on the targeted viewers, most websites should be simple enough that a child could easily navigate the site. Creating a simple design makes it easier for users to complete their interactions with a website. If a website is too complex or has too many unorganized elements, it becomes difficult for users to complete a task. Using two to five colors, legible font, and simple graphics that help enable a website makes websites look clean and professional. The simple design helps the accessibility of a website, making it easier for viewers to use a website.

Overlapping Elements of Design

Having grown in an era with an understanding of design standards, web designers no longer rely on websites that showcase individual elements. Instead, designers use many different elements, factors, and techniques to build intricate websites. The result is an interface that users find easy to access and to engage. For example, instead of having a separate image and a title text, one can overlap the text of the image. This creates a dynamic feel to the website and helps the viewer focus on the text.

According to Why Visuals Are More Powerful Than Words, people remember visuals far better than orally presented information. 10% of people remember information presented orally three days after given the information. So, by combining a picture or visual with text, many people retain the information. With a picture, 65% remember the topic three days later. Since images and animations immediately catch the viewers’ eyes, the viewers become focused on the title. This result is a website with more memorable information.

Overlapping web design elements create an organized and professional-looking website that follows design standards. Using a model such as the Box Model makes it easier for users to follow as they scroll or switch from webpage to webpage.

The Box Model

An example of overlapping multiple web design elements can be seen with the Cascade Style Sheet (CSS) Box Model. The Box Model consists of a margin, border, padding, and content. Each element is stacked on top of the other. The outer layers wrap around the content to make the content stand out. Design Elements & Principles describes the importance of how lines and borders direct the user’s attention to a specific section of the website. Solid lines of color are not the only borders that work with the Box Model. Images can also be used as backgrounds, which center the viewers’ attention to the content. Catching the user’s attention and highlighting important information with borders, web designers create a three-dimensional effect. This also helps define space between elements.

The Box Model can also help with the flow of a website. Defining negative space between content helps balance web pages, so it is easier for viewers to follow. Having a balance between content and negative space creates a sense of symmetry, easy to adjust using the Box Model. A mix of box sizes allows web designers to use less space for content display. Web designers can also vary the number of content boxes in the padding to create a table-like feel.

Design Models using Overlapping Elements

Overlapping web design elements can be seen in lots of modern-day website models. Semi-Flat Design, Card Design, Background Videos, and Large & Responsive Hero Image all use overlapping web design elements. Overlapping web design elements create better visual flow for websites and attract viewers. In 2013, Apple created Semi-Flat Design, which uses text and a transparent box overtop of an image. The shadows create depth and intrigue the user to see what happens when one clicks on the text. Other websites such as Uber have followed Apple’s Semi-Flat design model.

The Card Design and Large & Responsive Hero Image both use text overlapping on top of images. The Card Design approach became popular with websites such as Pinterest. Similar to the Box Model, Card Design uses boxes to feature information. The Card Design breaks up information into content “cards,” which feature an image and related text. These designs are useful if a user wants to perform a side-by-side comparison of products. The Large & Responsive Hero Image also uses an image behind the text. The Large & Responsive Hero Image design focuses on the image, which captivates the viewers’ attention. Background Videos can also feature text overtop an image. However, in this case, the background is a video that can play with a transparent navigation bar on top. According to 8 Modern Website Design Elements and Trends, viewers are more responsive to videos than text.

Some may argue that overlapping web design elements make websites overly cluttered. When design elements are left on their own and not grouped, the content becomes scattered for the viewer. Scattered content results in challenges, and space is not used efficiently. However, using an overlapping elements model like the Box Model, web designers take up less space on the webpage.

How Overlapping Elements Appeals to Users

In our fast-changing society, a website must meet the needs of today’s demanding users. What is popular or easy to navigate could change as quickly as new software updates come out. Overlapping Elements can help attract users with interactive and visually pleasing dynamics. One pattern noticed with modern websites is that websites are designed so that text and images complement one another. Also, those images are strategically picked to match background colors. This creates a seamless feeling that the image is part of the background and keeps the website fluid.

One of the major changes from the 1990s to the present day is the presence of hand-held devices. Cell phones and tablets have different viewing capabilities. If a website cannot adapt to different screen sizes or devices, it becomes limited. Overlapping design elements work well with smaller devices, as it is easier to navigate with compact information. With so many internet users using hand-held devices, using overlapping elements becomes essential. Overlapping web design elements creates a consistent flow that keeps users engaged throughout their navigation of the website.

Overlapping Elements Shaping Future Websites

Heading into the future, one can already see new trends that will influence the websites of the next generation. Our livelihood revolves around the internet, and without well-designed business websites, our way of life will fall into chaos. Creating a three-dimensional and flowing feel to a website seems to be pushing beyond the confining lines of simple websites. The philosophy of good web design should entail new animation techniques, scrolling capabilities, linking to scrolling, and other elements. Web design techniques change every day, and overlapping web design elements will play a large role in syncing these design elements together.

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