Designing an effective website navigation bar structure is essential. It acts as a road map for your web visitors and can have a huge impact on user experience, interaction, and conversion. But unfortunately, many small businesses have confusing website navigations and poor site architecture.
Many small business owners and web design agencies have strong beliefs when it comes to navigation layout. These beliefs are often based off personal preferences or past experiences, rather than expert advice or target audience preferences. If you’re seeing your bounce rates slowly increasing, your on page time consistently lowering, and your conversion rates starting to plateau, a new website navigation may be what you need to get your website back on track!
A well-designed website navigation bar does more than just add to the design and overall “look” of your website, it’s purpose is much more practical than that. An intuitive navigation bar structure will allow your website visitors to move easily and efficiently through your website, so they’ll be able to find what they’re looking for and then get in contact with you sooner. This should be the ultimate goal of every small business website.
It’s time to take action!
5 Best Practices of Good Navigation Bar Structure
Your website and navigation menu structure is the actual layout of your web page, this includes how you choose to design your site navigation.
Your website navigation design can be broken up into two parts:
1. The actual navigation bar
2. The path your web visitors take maneuver through your site (site architecture)
Both of these are equally important for the success of your small business website and the work you do will integrate between them.
Tip #1: Construct a Three Clicks Deep Site Architecture
The deeper a searcher has to travel into your website to find the information they’re looking, the more opportunities you’re giving them to get lost, get frustrated, and leave your website. Never be more than three clicks away from the homepage! Your website navigation design should be created to get your web visitor to what they’re looking for as quickly as possible. A searcher expects your website to be up to modern search standards. This means not only well developed content and fast loading pages, but also layout and navigation efficiency.
Your searchers are busy people! They don’t have time to waste looking through your site. If they can’t find what they want quickly, they’ll find another website that will live up to their expectations instead.
Tip #2: Invest in a Minimal Website Layout
This tip ties in with tip #1. Having a minimal, modern, and clean website navigation structure and design will allow your target audience to find what they’re looking for on your website faster. It allows you to highlight the most important pages and sections on your website so your visitors can find what they want easier. If you minimize the content on your web pages to what’s actually essential, there’s a higher chance your visitors will convert faster.
Minimal website design also helps with your website SEO, allowing your pages to rank better in SERPs. Minimal website structure prioritizes mobile optimization, page load time, and clean code, which are important ranking factors in Google algorithms.
Tip #3: Create a Short Navigation Bar
Often times, small business owners want to fit as much as possible in their navigation bar design to showcase everything they have to offer. DON’T DO THIS!
You shouldn’t have more than eight tabs in your navigation bar. Instead of trying to put everything into your navigation menu, create main sections for your content and nest other important pages under those sections. This will make your content more easily understandable and quicker to access. Drop down menus are a great way to encourage users to quickly scan and jump to the section that best fits their needs.
By grouping your content into sections in your navigation bar design, you’ll also be able to develop and implement a better SEO strategy to optimize for long tail keywords as well.
Again, when you create those nesting pages, make sure your main content is no more than three clicks deep!
Tip #4: Choose a Standard Layout
Visitors expect to see horizontal navigation bars across the top of the page or vertical navigation bars down the side. Stick with one of those formats. Don’t get too creative with unique navigation bars because your visitors might not know how to interact with them. While your website design is definitely important, you also don’t want to get too fancy with your layout. You’re not trying to win over your visitors with creative designs. Instead, win over your target audience with the ease and simplicity of your small business website navigation bar structure!
The main objective is to help people find your content quickly and easily.
Tip #5: Use Intuitive Title Choices for Navigation Categories
If your website visitors are scanning your website, they want to be able to find the closest match in your navigation bar to what they’re looking for. Clear, intuitive navigation bar sections and titles will help eliminate confusion.
Here are some of essential sections that need to be represented in your navigation bar:
– An “About Us” section
– A “Contact Us” section
– A “Blog” section
– A “Pricing” section
– A products/ services section (be specific with what you provide)
Be upfront with your web searchers about what content is available on your website! They’ll appreciate that you’ve made their search easy, and you could see more website engagement and sales as a result too!
Don’t let your personal preferences get in the way of implementing an effective website navigation bar structure for your website. Making critical errors in navigation design has a bigger impact on the success or failure of a website than most small business owners realize. Take a look at the 5 best practice tips above to design the best navigation bar and structure so your visitors can find what they want with ease!