It stands to reason that navigation is one of the key elements of any website design; after all, what’s the point of creating great content if no one can find it? You wouldn’t go into a shop and expect to hunt behind doors, round corners and dead ends to find the item that you are looking for; you expect clean and clear signposts and displays to take you right where you want to be.
The same rules apply in the virtual world. Confusing navigation and hard to find content can raise concerns over professionalism, lack of expertise and an impression the site is purely an opportunistic website to catch unwary visitors. However, create intuitive and transparent navigation and your visitors will be able to confidently place trust in your site and your company.
Your website users want to know 3 key things: Where am I? Where have I been? Where can I go next? Make the answers clear through your navigational choices and structure and the chances are you’ll keep their attention.
Do give detailed consideration to the navigational structure; make the most important functionality and content the primary navigation headings and those of lesser importance your secondary navigation. Keep the number of links per page to a reasonable number and ensure link titles are short and clear. Make sure the navigation is in the most intuitive place, usually to the top or left of the page
Don’t make the mistake of designing your website entirely around the home page. Whilst it is a key element, visitors may enter the site from a number of different pages and it’s just as important that they know where to go from any of those pages.
Do make sure that all pages have clear titles, so the user knows where they are at all times
Don’t make the user click through numerous links to get to where they want to go. Always keep clicks to a minimum, helping visitors to find relevant information as quickly as possible
Do try and think like the average website user when designing the navigation. It’s great to add unique and innovative features to your website, but navigation isn’t the place to do it; users want to be able to move around intuitively and expect to find navigation tools in the traditional places
Don’t change the navigational layout across pages, ensure that it is consistent across the whole site. Users will feel more comfortable moving around a site with a familiar navigational flow
Do make sure the user is never more than two clicks away from help and support, provide clear signposts and calls to action to encourage the user to make contact with your company for more information or if they need help
Remember that navigation also works together with SEO. A good navigational structure helps the search engine spiders crawl through a site and index the pages. Websites that are easy to use, with clear navigational structure, rank more highly in search engine results.
To talk to AVAMAE about how we can help you build a website with great navigation, or review and update your existing site navigation and structure, contact us.