Think of Navigation as a Map
We, users of the great interwebs, are human. This means when we visit your website, we are trained to look for a map so we can get to our destination. When you do something weird, funky, cool, the “latest and greatest”, etc. to your website navigation, we may lose our way and you may lose a customer. There are many easy (and logical) ways to improve your website navigation and I plan on covering a few of them here.
Easy Ways to Improve Your Website Navigation
1) Just because it is flashy and cool, don’t do it.
I had the opportunity to work with another web developer on a project. Design Spike®, Inc. was bring social media strategy to the project and they got to handle the website itself. While showing them valuable content on the website that could be used as part of their social media campaign, I was unable to find one very important piece of the pie. Here I was on a photographer’s website, and I could not find their portfolio. They hid it in non standard navigation — off to the left hand side of the screen attached to a rotating gallery. Exactly where no one would be looking for it. So keep your navigation standard and your visitors will spend more time on your site.
2) It’s a good idea to make your logo clickable to get to the homepage.
Again, standard. This is how we humans behave on the web. We mouse over your logo anticipating it will get us back home — like clicking our little red heels three times. Site visitors like to be able to quickly return home and when they can’t, they might get a little miffed.
3) Avoid images in your website navigation bar.
Use actual text which helps make your site more easily indexed. And again, it is what we humans look for when we arrive on your landing page – words. in fact, words that tell us what to do.
4) Leave behind those catchy terms and labels.
Again, we’re human. You may think Our Gardens or Your Resting Place is a cool navigation label for Cemeteries, but while those words might mean something to you, your site visitor is looking for familiar terms. And in this case, Cemeteries, Plots, etc. are familiar terms for a funeral home website. Stick with things like Services, Products, Projects, About Us, Contact, etc. Don’t try to be too cool.
5) Even though you have a lot of content you want to share, keep the number of navigation items down.
Less is more. The less words my brain has to translate in to something meaningful, the less chance I will scan right over some important content. Keep the clutter down. Do not be a website navigation hoarder, make your website visitors time with you pleasant.
6) Think of your website visitor as Hansel and Gretel. Leave some breadcrumbs.
Breadcrumb website navigation lets us human website visitors know how we got to a certain page, how to return and where we are. No more getting lost in the website vortex!
Remember, your navigation is your visitor’s map. Without it, your visitor will get lost. Be helpful and mark all of the signs to help them find their way. I bet if you clean that navigation up and standardize it a bit, you’d increase conversions or sales.
Have you run in to examples of terrible navigation? Did you get lost and bail? I usually do.