I am looking for a common, collective word that describes major parts of the interface of a web-app which are seen on many different pages/screens, as opposed to parts of the interface specific to a single page/screen. Stuff like:

  • global navigation buttons (top-level menus, footer)
  • indicators common to most pages and showing “global” state (like the logged in/anonymous state)
  • buttons that influence the presentation in some global way (like that Google Analytics control that changes time period—it shows up on most of the pages and influences every diagram and table; or a site-wide toggle that changes font size/accessibility features)
  • widgets that allow a certain feature to be used from every page (like a popup feedback dialog)

as opposed to:

  • content-specific link on a single page that just happens to link to another specific page (like a link in an email, or a link to show related content),
  • an indicator showing status of a specific piece of the content (like: this email is unread)
  • a button to hide/show a specific subtree of comments on a discussion page.
  • It's usually called the "header"? Aug 3, 2013 at 9:32
  • @MarjanVenema: not really; header is indeed on every page, but so is footer, and footer is not a part of header. Also, I added one more example—feedback popup.
    – liori
    Aug 3, 2013 at 12:59
  • "shared elements"?
    – DA01
    Aug 3, 2013 at 13:21

2 Answers 2


I would call them Common User Interface Elements,

Create consistency and use common UI elements. By using common elements in your UI, users feel more comfortable and are able to get things done more quickly. It is also important to create patterns in language, layout and design throughout the site to help facilitate efficiency. Once a user learns how to do something, they should be able to transfer that skill to other parts of the site.

Source: http://www.usability.gov/what-and-why/user-interface-design.html

Usability.gov? Is that a joke?

  • This term is pretty mouthful, but it's the only one so far that (in my opinion) gets the idea. Going to accept it if there will be no other contestants.
    – liori
    Aug 4, 2013 at 19:43

Template might be the term you're looking for, although it generally means more than just the common elements, including the layout and named holes or regions for the page specific parts.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.