How your website functions are of vital importance to your business: it’s a portal for the entire online world (current population: 4.7 billion people) to see what you are all about.
First things first: the ways users actually navigate around your site is critical to their experience. It’s inextricably linked with everything else important: your marketing strategies, UX, sales funnels, and traffic generation (to name but a few).
There are some incredibly easy to make mistakes, however, when it comes to web navigation. Luckily, we’ve got solutions for you.
Mistake #1: Using a non-standard style.
In many walks of life, it pays to stand out from the crowd. Web navigation is quite the opposite: being conventional is the very best decision you can make. Why? Because over the last twenty years, consumers have become extremely used to standard methods of navigation: we’re almost hardwired to understand certain visual hierarchies. For example, a navigation menu at the top or left-hand side of your page, a vertical scroll, reading from left to right, etc.
If users are confronted with a confusing new alternative (no matter how creative or different you think it is), they’re going to move and look for something recognisable.
Tip: look at some of the most popular sites on the web. Learn from them – seek to emulate their design, and don’t deviate too far from conventions.
Mistake #2: Confusing drop-down menus.
Several usability studies have shown that top-level navigation is consistently favoured by consumers. That means you’ve got to try as best you can to keep
things clear and simple, without dozens of options – long, detailed drop downs can be extremely irksome for most users, particularly on tablets or mobile devices. The average human’s short-term memory can only hold 7 items, so dropdowns with anything around that number are teetering on the brink of being unusable. You might have to rethink your design if that’s the case for you.
Tip: try to consolidate smaller pages into large, ‘grouped’ pages. Keep drop downs clear, simple, and short.
Mistake #3: Forgetting visual hierarchies.
The first and last of anything inevitably gain the most attention. For you and your business, your most important pages are more likely than not going to be something along the lines of the ‘buy now’, ‘contact’ or ‘services’ pages.
Far too many websites have these critical pages hidden directly in the middle of navigation menus, severely impeding potential customers’ ability to get there without being disrupted or distracted by pages which should be supplementary – not stealing the show.
Tip: bunch auxiliary or inessential pages towards the middle of any navigation menu, placing the critical pages either at the beginning or end (staying mindful of your potential user’s journey throughout).