Navigation is the crux of good web design. You can have the most beautiful web page on the internet, but if it’s a chore for your visitors to navigate your site, what’s the point? Unfortunately, with most websites, navigation is an afterthought, taking a back seat to web page design. Don’t get me wrong, good web design is crucial to creating a stellar web page, but good navigation design is more important than you think. What happens when you take away all of those flashy headers and fancy graphics you designed? You’re left with boring navigation links, but boring is good. Navigation design should be simple and efficient. Save the creativity stuff for your content. This article won’t get too technical, but it will explain five easy concepts that you can use to improve your website’s navigation.
Top 5 Ways to Improve the Navigation of Your Website Quickly and Easily
Make Your Logo Clickable
This is a great tip that your visitors will appreciate. It’s very easy to get lost within a web page (unless the developer followed some of these tips) so having this failsafe available is a must so people can easily return to your homepage. It’s hard to encourage incorporating too many photos into your navigation design, but this is one occasion where it’s recommended. For some reason, it’s just more appealing to click on a logo rather than the words ‘Home” or “Main Page.”
This isn’t a necessarily new advice, but it’s something that a lot of sites have yet to adopt efficiently. Adding a search feature is a great way to streamline a visitors user experience but only if it’s implemented properly. In-site search features are a great way for your users to have access to all of your content with a quick word search. That’s why it’s important to make sure that your search is working properly. Make sure that it’s able to handle misspellings and will adjust accordingly, and can bring up relevant results for searches that failed to find the exact keywords used.
If you have a webpage, it’s a good chance you have social accounts too. If you don’t, you need to get on that right away. Linking your social media platforms to your web page is a great way beef up your online presence and it keeps all of your content interconnected. You can add links to your Facebook, twitter, etc., that will send your visitors directly to your page on their respected platforms. Don’t get too fancy with your social buttons though. I’ve seen too many blogs/websites with very obscure and poorly placed social links that are either hard to find or poorly labeled. Keep it nice and simple. Your best bet is to place the links somewhere near the top of your pages so visitors don’t have to go searching for them, and just use each platform’s logo as the graphic.
Be Clear With Your Wording
A common occurrence in these tips is to not overdo it. It might be a hard pill to shallow, but your navigation design should be simple and barebones. The whole purpose of website navigation is making sure your visitors can get from point A to B to M to D and back to A without feeling like they were lost somewhere in between. What’s the easiest way to do that? Use clear and concise words that obviously state what’s going to happen when a link is clicked. Now, the vocabulary and voice of each web site is, for the most part, unique, so there isn’t really a one size fits all system. Use words that most people are familiar with and don’t create categories just for the sake of creating them. You can still get personal with your wording but make sure it’s simple.
Believe it or not, but the best advice on web design you can get is from your visitors! You may be responsible for the behind the scenes stuff, but they’re the ones who will actually be using the site on a daily basis. Let them tell you what they like or don’t like about the site layout. They might even have ideas that you didn’t think of that would improve the overall user experience. It’s always nice to have a fresh pair of eyes come in and tell you what needs to be done differently. Open up a forum on your message boards or start a conversation on social media. You might be surprised as to how many people care about your success.
It’s hard to recommend too many ways to improve website navigation due to the simplicity of its purpose. I’ve read other articles that seem to think the flashier the better, but in my experience that’s just not true. Navigating a web page should be something that a user doesn’t even really stop to think about. It needs to be a simple process or you’ll find that the number of visitors will drop. Remember, save the flashy and creative stuff for your content and web design, and keep your navigation scheme simple.