Have you ever gone to a company’s website for the first time and had no idea how to move from page to page? Website navigation refers to the menus on a website that guide users to internal pages, and it can be a make-or-break design element for potential customers. In a saturated market, customers who can’t access information on a website will simply move on to a competitor to purchase a similar product or service.
Businesses should ensure that their websites are easy to navigate. This increases search engine rankings and drives website traffic, prolongs the amount of time that individuals spend on the website, improves the user experiences, and leads to more conversions and sales.
Many websites have navigation menus located at the top of the page and in the footer. The top navigation area has menu items with short titles, and occasionally the top navigation menu is “sticky,” meaning that it stays frozen as the user scrolls and up and down the page. The footer navigation menu might mirror the top navigation menu, provide navigation to more pages than the top menu, or contain contact information. Each website is different depending on the products and services offered.
(Example of a Top Navigation Menu)
(Example of a Footer)
The following tips can aid in creating effective website navigation, whether you are creating a website for the first time or are revamping your website.
Tips for Effective Website Navigation
- Create a Site Map: Businesses can start by creating a site map for their website. A site map contains every page on the website.
- Determine Content Hierarchies: Once every page is listed, see if there are ways to group content together. For example, if every employee has an individual page, the employees could be grouped under an “Our Staff” heading. These hierarchies simplify the process of locating content, and broad categories can branch into narrower classifications.
- Consider the User Experience: Website navigation should be primarily focused on the user and the journey that he or she goes through when visiting a website. After a user lands on the home page, where should he or she go next? To an online store? To a contact form? To client testimonials? Based on what the user is most likely looking for, determine the headers or menu titles that can guide users to these areas.
- Limit Top Navigation Menu Items: These menu items or headings should be short and concise. Examples of headings include “Services,” “Testimonials,” “Blog,” “Contact Us,” “Menu,” “Our Staff,” “Mission,” “Products,” “Store,” and more. The headings should be areas where the customer will want to go next, and if a header needs more information (for example listing each employee under the “Our Staff” heading), a drop-down menu can appear. That way the top navigation menu stays concise but will display more information if the user desires.
- Add a Call-to-Action Button: While some potential customers want to learn more about a company, others want to take immediate action. A button is no different than a normal heading, but a shape outline and different color make it more clickable and differentiate it from other headers. Users can clearly see the button and are more enticed to click it and take action.
- Focus on the Footer: Website footers are often overlooked and neglected, but they have the potential to be beneficial for users if designed properly. When visitors scroll through a page and arrive at the footer, they can click on other links, find a page they couldn’t find before, and take action without having to scroll up, especially if there is a contact form in the footer.
- Consider the Mobile Experience: Many people use the Internet entirely from their phones, so it’s important to make sure that menu navigation is just as clear on a computer as it is on a hand-held device.
Website Navigation and User Experience
Closely tied to website navigation is user experience, which refers to the overall impression that a user gets from visiting a website. User experience includes the visual aspects to a website such as fonts, colors, images, page load time, and form design; but it’s important to note that website navigation is part of the user experience.
A user could look at a website and think it is one of the most gorgeous things he or she has ever seen, but if the user doesn’t know where any information is, the design ultimately won’t matter. Website navigation needs to be clear for the user so that his or her experience is positive and might help sell an item or collect an email address.
Riser Media Group
It’s important that users are able to quickly and easily gather information from a website, and navigation plays a large role in this process. Let the experts at Riser Media Group determine the best way for customers to navigate your website so that your business can RISE above the competition!