Best Practices for Website Navigation

David-Dillon David Dillon | July 26, 2017 Comments
Best Practices for Website Navigation
Have you ever visited a website and could not find the specific information you were looking for? You’re not alone! This is a very common problem and is often the result of mistakes in website navigation. In this article, we are going to point out and discuss some these errors and how to remedy them.

Your website’s navigation may seem like an insignificant or small part of the overall design and layout, but it plays a crucial role in the success or failure of your website. Your users are likely to bounce to a competitor’s website if they have trouble finding what they are looking for. Simple changes to your navigation structure can often help decrease your bounce rate.

Listed below are a few common mistakes to avoid when creating your website navigation:

Having too many options

We see this issue all the time when it comes to menus. Having way too many menu items can confuse your visitors and make it hard for them to find the most important information. Through your website analytics, consider the pages your visitors want to visit the most. List out the primary and secondary goals of the website so you can develop your navigation around funneling your users through clear paths to these goals.

Navigation should be short and concise. Fewer items will make it easier and faster for your users to evaluate the menu and make their decisions. It can also be a mistake to have too few items, where users don’t know where to navigate and end up sorting through long sub category lists. Challenge yourself to make it within 6 or 8 items.

Putting items in the wrong order

Studies have shown that your users will pay attention more to menu items that are located at the beginning and the end of your navigation structure. Therefore, it is best to make sure your most important menu items are placed in these areas. Best practices show that new client information should be placed at the beginning and contact links at the end.

Using vague or long names in your menus

Navigation names should always be descriptive and not clever or creative, or the user can be confused as where to navigate through your menu. The best way to accomplish this is by being clear and simple. Consider using common words found in other websites and create terms that are familiar with your users.

In most cases, you will have a limited amount of space for your navigation. It is important to keep the navigation titles short. Try challenging yourself to cut down long names to shorter and simpler terms (eg., “Our Services” changed to “Services”). Short and sweet is always best.

Poor navigation and menu placement

With every web design we create, we are always pushing the design and creativity of the layout. However, it’s important to not let the creativity take over when it comes to the placement of your navigation. Standard navigation menus are usually located across the top or along the left column of the design. Consider following this design standard to make sure your visitors are easily finding their paths to conversion.

Conclusion

The navigation structure, naming, design and placement can make or break the experience your visitors will have with your website. By ensuring your navigation is easy to find and use, visitors will spend more time on your site and find the content or features important to them and to your business.

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