Think of a scenario where you have desired to buy a particular shoe and finally manage to locate it somewhere on an e-commerce store. After a lot of online searches, you are now close to getting your dream shoe and at an affordable price too. You now want to make a purchase, and all of a sudden, you cannot find the "Buy" button. The shopping cart button is nowhere to be found, either. Nothing regarding 'Buy Me' seems to be working as even the return policy can't be located anywhere on the website. Eventually, you decide to give up as everything seems unclear; you even decide to buy from another brand.
This is a real example of how inefficient website navigation practices can create or break traffic to your website. Of course, the client will probably never return to the site. Your conversion and bounce rates will go down with time, and you are the one to blame. Effective website navigation will help your users to quickly locate what they are looking for and also have a smooth experience while on the site. Positive user experience will definitely encourage the users to return to the site and purchase more products, or just explore more products on the site. They could even give a goodwill word to their friends, thus creating more traffic and demand for your goods and services. When creating a website, take into consideration the many factors that enhance good user experience. For instance, the visual appeal, layout, and style of the text can help ease user navigation in the site. These 11 website navigation tips will help you improve the website navigation experience to create more traffic and satisfaction to the customers.
i. Plan the website navigation process
ii. Prioritize the pages
iii. Stick to conventions
iv. Consider creating a sticky menu
v. Limit the number of items in your menu
vi. Create mega dropdown menus
vii. Add a search bar
viii. Label your menu clearly
ix. Link the logo back to the homepage
x. Indicate what page the user is on
xi. Ensure the user can reach any page from any page.
TYPES OF WEBSITE NAVIGATION
There are diverse forms of website designs, each with unique content and structure. However, there are only a few standard website navigation strategies that are used in the online world. The website navigation menus help users navigate through the website with a lot of ease.
Proper location of the Navigation menu.
v The navigation menu is usually located in the website's header. It is a classic menu that is typically found on the side of each page. It can be minimal or take center stage of the page. As a web designer, you could even make it an integral part of the web design process. An excellent example of a central navigation menu is on this graphic designer, Beeple's Wix website.
Use a Split up menu
v Split up menu design is a new menu design that divides the standard menu. It breaks the standard menu by placing links to each page in the corners or sides of the site.
Design a Hamburger menu bar
v The hamburger menu style is often used in mobile phones, but it is nowadays finding its way to the desktop versions of sites. It is a simple three-line icon that does not usually interfere with the website's design. It is very minimal, and it is often used when the real estate is small.
v The footer of your website is a suitable area to place your social media links and any related links. The footer can also highlight the navigation menu that has been placed at the head of your site.
i. Plan the navigation process efficiently.
Although sometimes we may do things impromptu, planning is very crucial in the navigation process. You need to create a useful website, so take the time to think and plan the navigation process. Decide on which feature the site requires. Design the hierarchy of the pages also to place the necessary navigation features for the site adequately. Consider the needs of the users when designing the navigation menu, such as a blog, FAQ, or the 'About' page. Decide which section is the most useful and create the most efficient navigation tools.
Plan the menu according to the needs of the users. It is essential to create a sitemap to guide you through the process. A sitemap is a list of the pages in the site and all the sub-sections within the pages. The sitemap should be hierarchical, indicating all the pages hierarchically; in order of their importance. A sitemap is the best base for creating a navigation menu. There are many ways of creating a navigation menu, such as writing it by hand, drawing a flow chart diagram, or designing it in a spreadsheet.
For instance, if your website is all about cosmetic products, the pages to prioritize are the homepage, the online store, and the 'About Us' section. Besides, you can go ahead and divide the online store section into the various products that you are selling, such as skincare products, nail polishers, hair products, and best sellers. All these details should first be presented in the sitemap.
ii. Prioritize the pages- Hierarchy
When creating the sitemap, consider what you want your users to go. Where do you want to lead them? How will they get an experience of the many pages systematically? Prioritize the pages will help boost the traffic to the site. While prioritizing, consider the products that are most desired by customers. You can get accurate information about your users' likes and preferences through a thorough analysis of Google analytics.
The pages that have the highest traffic should be prioritized. Also, ensure that the customers have a smooth experience while on the site. These pages should be incorporated in your primary navigation menu and even on the homepage menu. Each page should have higher and lower value sections. Also, there should be higher value and smaller value pages, and this information should be considered when designing the navigation menu for each page. The navigation menu should accurately consider this information to make the essential pages to stand out. The general rule in creating a navigation menu is that the items that appear first or last on the menu attract more users. Therefore, place your high priority pages on the first and last sections of the navigation menu.
If your website has a lot of information to be adequately contained in a single menu, create a secondary navigation menu. A secondary navigation menu will hold all the extra pages that are of less value but are still relevant and require a navigation menu. The secondary navigation menu should attract less attention; you may make it smaller with a less contrasting color.
iii. Use the Conventions
Sometimes it is better to stick to what the users are already aware of. Although we may often desire to create a unique website design with unique pages and navigation menus, it is great to let the users employ prior knowledge. Let them use the knowledge that they have already acquired from the site and from other sites, too, by making the navigation menu familiar. There must be a reason why hyperlinks typically appear blue, with the logo being placed at the top corner. These design conventions are familiar to almost all website users, and they will work for you.
When it comes to website navigation, your desire is for the customers to have a smooth experience while on the site. Imagine if the website design and content are absolutely new to them, they will definitely have a hard time tracing their target pages. Even when the design is all new, they will still anticipate the menu to be at the usual location. So, do not break this convention style, such as placing the menu in the top corner of the website, as the user will not quickly locate it.
If you want to break from the convention, do not to it at the expense of your web traffic. Only do it if it serves the purpose of the website right, and it will make the user experience better.
iv. Create a sticky homepage menu
If possible, consider creating a sticky menu. A sticky menu is a fixed/floating menu that sticks to the page even as the user is scrolling down the page. The sticky menu is essential as a customer does not have to scroll all the way back to the top just to click on another page. You will definitely improve user experience, hence saving their valuable time.
Besides, you could consider adding a ‘Back to Top’ button to help the users easily access other pages if you do not have a sticky menu. Whether you will go for a sticky menu or 'Back to top' button will also be determined by the website's design and layout. Thus, take time and select the most user-friendly menu for your customers' easier navigation. If you wish to create a floating menu on wix.com you could simply go to 'Add' on the left-hand side of the site, then click on the "Menu' to select which menu style you desire. Then, right-click on the menu and select 'Pin to Screen.'
V. Use only a few items on the page and homepage menu
Try to limit the number of items in your menu. Users experience a lot of online distractions before they get to your site. So, give them a comfortable experience while on the site. Keep the categories on the menu at a maximum of seven. This will make the users understand the information better and make more informed decisions. Also, they will reach their target pages quicker.
If your website contains a lot of information, try to break it down further using the dropdown menu. When a user clicks on one category, the dropdown menu will give additional categories that a user can choose from. However, avoid the dropdown menus since when a customer clicks on a particular group, s/he expects to be taken straight to the page. The extra step may interfere with the user experience.
Vi. Consider designing Mega Dropdown Menus
If necessary, incorporate mega dropdown menus. Usually, it is not possible to limit the number of items on the menu if the site has a large number of products. If the site has a lot of products or services, you need to create a mega menu. Mega menus consist of an extensive list of items that drop down from a navigation menu. The mega menu usually offers diverse options to access the listed products.
An excellent example of mega dropdown menus is eCommerce websites that sell various products. Try not to include all the products on the menu as it will look cluttered. Instead, create sub-categories for the products. This will allow users to access the products in a more orderly manner. For instance, if you are offering wellness and fitness services, the main menu may include, for instance, 'Classes.' The 'Classes' item may contain a dropdown menu with subcategories such as 'stretching,' 'aerobics' etc. Under these subcategories, you will indicate all the different types of classes that your site is offering.
Plan and create a sitemap to effectively decide on the hierarchy of products and services on your website. A sitemap will help avoid confusion, clutter, or omission of important items. Use typography effectively to make the sub-categories to pop out. For instance, you may make them larger, bolder, or use a different contrast. You may also add an extra space between them for the users to distinguish them clearly.
Vii. Integrate a search icon
Adding a search bar is essential for a website that has a lot of items. A search bar is vital in helping the users to find what they are looking for quickly. You need to make the site utterly user-friendly without having to make the customer wait around without locating what they need. The user needs to experience a seamless flow while on the site. A search bar is a convention that most website users are familiar with. So, when a new customer visits your site, s/he will easily navigate through the site.
Place the search bar close to your menu so that every user can search for items easily. It should be on the header level, and you could make it sticky such that the user will still access it even when scrolling down the menu.
Viii. Clearly label all the menus-page and homepage menu
You have already made a precise selection of the items to appear on your menu in the order of their priority. This is the time to strategically place them on the menu, with precise wording as well as labeling. A microcopy skill is essential at this point as it will help you put the smaller details effectively. Use crystal clear wording so that the users will easily understand the information. Do not use jargon when writing the menu details. Simply use descriptive terms that are clear and to-the-point.
If you are not yet sure which descriptive words are fit for your website, consider performing A/B tests on your site.
ix. Connect the logo back to the homepage.
Many web designers make the mistake of not linking the logo back to the homepage. Not connecting the logo back to the homepage is a common web design mistake. The menu does not necessarily have to contain the item 'Homepage.' Instead, add your business logo to each page and link it to the homepage. This will give the users a more comfortable navigation experience in the site, and it will also resemble the web design conventions.
Ensure that the logo appears on the top of your site as this is the most convenient place. You may also put it closer to the menu, and if you do not have a menu consider one of these recommended logo makers.
X. Indicate which page the user is on.
Make it clear to the user where s/he is while on the site to avoid making the user feel disoriented. There are diverse ways of telling the user where he or she is on the site. You may include a significant title that is easily visible to the users or adds breadcrumbs. Breadcrumbs are a list of all the pages that a user has visited before getting to where they are now. Also, a user could simply see the highlighted page on the menu. Highlighting a page on the menu is a very efficient method, and it does not lead to clutter as breadcrumbs do.
Xi. Create access of all pages from any page
Finally, ensure that the visitors to your website can access any page from any page. Let the users be able to navigate to any page of their choice from their current page. Let them not reach their target page only from the homepage. Connect all pages in a harmonious way such that each page connects to the rest of the website.
First, ensure that all pages are accessible from the main menu. Then ensure that every page has a menu. To create more harmony, ensure that the web design is consistent throughout all the pages. Place the page menu and the navigation menu on the same spot in all the pages to avoid any confusion.