What it takes to create good website navigation.
When we visit a website, the majority of what we notice are the aesthetics and design. We see colors, images, and graphics. What we don’t tend to notice are the structural elements like page organization, formatting, and website navigation. That is, we don’t notice them unless they’re bad. There’s nothing worse than landing on a website that leads you in circles, never getting you to the information you’re looking for. We don’t want our websites to be that way. Follow these three rules, and you wont:
Rule #1: Always have an outline.
Whether your website is already up and running or you’re just starting to design one, the first thing you need to do is develop an outline. Decide what pages will go where, and in what order. Typically, a main menu bar should have no more than eight options, including the home page. There’s also an expected order your content should follow: Home, About, Products/Services, Blog, Contact. Of courses, there are other pages you might need to include in your main menu depending on your industry, but that simple list encompasses the basic information every website should include. You can break away from that mold and do something different, but be aware that doing so might confuse your visitors.
When it comes to sub-menu pages (pages that aren’t listed on the main menu, but in a drop-down menu under one of your main menu), less is more. Too much information can overwhelm and confuse visitors. If your site has dozens of pages with helpful information, consider turning some of those pages into blog articles instead of being standalone pages. You still get the SEO benefit without information overload.
Rule #2: Apply sound logic.
Think through how you will organize the information on your website. This is referring to the content you put on your website, which is different than the outline. A tendency here is for websites to have two or three pages communicating the same information. Instead of being redundant, think about where the most logical place for the content, and pick that one place. For example, it makes sense to have information about your services on your “About” page. It also makes sense to have a separate “Services” page. You might also have an individual page for each of your services. Instead of repeating the same information in all three places, remove the services description on the “About” page and instead provide a link to the “Services” page. On that “Services” page, provide a general description of what you do, and describe your services in detail on their individual pages. Your goal is to make it as easy as possible for visitors to get the information they want from your website.
Rule #3: Make it look pretty.
This is the less glamorous aspect of website design. How you present the information on your website plays a crucial role in how well it is received. Huge, unbroken blocks of text simply will be skimmed at best, or not read at all. Strategize how you make your website’s content look. Break up large blocks of text into smaller paragraphs of 2-3 sentences. Use headers, bold text, colors, and italics to emphasize information (not all at once, of course – pick 2-3 formatting options per page!). On that note, if your website has pages with lots of information, reevaluate whether it’s all necessary. Keeping as much content as possible “above the fold” (meaning visitors don’t have to scroll down to see it) is important. Some of that content could be turned into a blog post, and some of it is really just unnecessary.
Having good website navigation is really pretty easy. Think through your website like you’re a first-time visitor who has no familiarity with your industry. Your goal is to make the information on your site as simple and streamlined as possible.
If you’re not sure whether your website’s navigation is up to par, we can help. Our Website Review and Strategy Report is designed to take an existing website and make it the best it can be. A thorough review is detailed into a report and delivered to you with easy, actionable steps outlined for improvements you can make to your website. Contact us for more information.