Designing an effective website navigation is essential. It acts as a road map for your visitors and can have a huge impact on user experience. After reading “Don’t Make Me Think, A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability” by Steve Krug, it made me re-evaluate the way some of my clients were structuring their navigation.
Many business owners, marketing experts, and web designers have strong beliefs when it comes to navigation layout. These beliefs are often based off personal preferences or past experiences rather than expert advice.
Here are the most important things to consider when organizing web pages
- Choosing A Standard Layout – Visitors are use to seeing horizontal navigation across the top of the page or vertical navigation down the left side. Stick with this format for the best success. The main objective is to help people find your content quickly and easily.
- Pairing Similar Items Together – I’ve seen clients stretch out their product categories across their navigation to increase their visibility. The navigation is not the place for this. Use the on-page content to talk about who you are, and what you do. Keep all products and services together in one place. Visitors are less likely to spend time hunting around your site.
- How We Really Use the Web – Most people scan websites, don’t expect your visitors to read every single word on every single page. Instead they browse through and select the option closest to what they’re looking for. Drop down menus are a great way to encourage users to quickly scan and jump to the section that best fits their needs.
- Title Choices for Categories – Think of titles as billboards, again, if users are scanning the site, they want to be able to find the closest match to what they’re looking for. Clear, intuitive titles will help eliminate confusion. If you’re unsure about what to name a category perform keyword research to get a better idea.
Don’t let your personal preferences get in the way. Making critical errors in navigation design has a bigger impact on success or failure than almost any other factor. Choosing the right items to include, and labeling them accurately could mean the difference between an online conversion and a bounce.