The basics of good website navigation

Do you want to make your website perform even better but don’t want to redesign it? Looking at website navigation is the easiest and best place to start.

Web design is often subtle and intricate but good website navigation is one of the easiest areas. The basics are covered in these guidelines which can really make your website perform even better for your business.

As so often with web design the best approach is to start at the end and this will give you the answer to what to do. 

The endpoint is twofold:

  • where do you want your users to end up

and

  • what do visitors do on your website? What are they looking for?

Where these two overlap is this sweet spot.  This means you are able to communicate the important things about your business and guide your visitors to the most important sections for conversion and sales.

My top “tried & tested – learn from my mistakes” tips about a website’s top menu:

  • Keep it simple: don’t overcrowd or overwhelm. Seven or eight options are ideal, any more then they might just give up.  If you need more put the most important ones in this menu and use your footer for others or add a search bar. 
  • Make sure your labels and descriptions are correct – a visitor is going to start not trusting you if they go to a page and it’s not what they expected.  
  • Also, make sure these labels are short and concise so as not to clutter your menu.
  • Prioritise the order – put the most important ones at the start.
  • Make it visible – delineate between the menu and the first section of the page. 

Good website navigation & the hamburger menu

The hamburger menu – is great for mobiles but is it any good on a desktop?

Here are a few things to think about:

  • It means your visitor will have an extra click on their path to where you want them to go
  • It hides links away so could give the impression that they are not important
  • We are creatures of habit – the menu is usually on the top right of the screen you need to have a really good reason to put it elsewhere!

Having said this I have used the hamburger menu on the desktop design for 4 clients in the past few months and it has worked really well.

Today I was listening to “Keep it loose, keep it tight” by Amos Lee

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