No matter if you have the best content on the Internet, the experience that a user has on your website, is the glue that holds it all together. Your website navigation can either keep your customers coming back for more, or ensure your competitors gets the sales instead of you.
What does good website navigation mean?
Website navigation is the means by which users get around your website. It can be image based or textual. Fancy or simple. The navigation bar for your site should be listed prominently across all of your web pages though. Make sure a user never has to hunt for it or they will leave your site in favor of a competitors.
Good navigation will create opportunities to increase your conversion rate, therefore, make sure your products or services are located only a few clicks from the homepage.
Good navigation also means that the search engines will be able to find and follow your pages. This is precisely why textual inks are much better to use than buttons. You will get a much quicker site load and more traction within the search engines.
Website Navigation Best Practices
Make sure that you use the tried-and-true techniques for the placement of your navigation bar. People expect a horizontal bar across the top of the screen or down either side. Adhering to this standard will ensure that your website gets a lower bounce rate and higher conversion rates. The style of the bar is up to you, but placing it in a standard location will improve your chances of success.
Do not use generic labels on your navigation (such as “Products”). Try to inject some originality and description into the titles of your pages across the navigation bar. This will help people to associate your navigation with your website specifically, helping your business to stand out in their minds even more.
Drop-down menus have been voted an annoying feature by many different focus groups. They may look cool to a site designer, but they are not very effective, especially within the smaller screen of the iOS and Android platforms. Once a visitor has decided to click on a certain option, that person should not receive more options from a drop-down menu. It tends to confuse the visitor, taking that person out of the linear stream of thought that leads to a sale or a conversion.
The items that are first and last on your navigation will receive the most attention. Make sure that they are the most relevant.
Three Websites with Great Navigation
Take a close look at the classic use of navigation at Artificial Plants and Trees. Their products are organized and grouped in such a way that you immediately know where everything is going to be, but the look of the website is still unique enough to stick out in your mind.
Amazon.com is another great example of user friendly navigation. They’ve even decided to put their entire navigation system on one page so users can easily shop by department.
As a new website on the Internet, the travel site Things to Eat and Do, has created an ultimate navigation experience for its users. Even though there is a great deal of content on every page, you can always find exactly where you want to be.
Although there are exceptions to every rule when it comes to style, the rules above will give you a great starting point. Put the customer first, keep your sales message clear and you will eventually come up with the style that will translate to your audience, providing your targeted market with a great navigational experience and plenty of fodder for the major search engines to pick up on.