Website navigation should be an essential practice of any website design. A successful navigation design that is easy to navigate not only provides a seamless user experience, but it also does wonders for the search engine optimization. For many web designers, this practice comes with experience, with trial and error, the designers slowly find out which navigation design systems are effective and provides a solid user interface. If not designed properly, a website can confuse the users and create frustration among the visitors. With these in mind, in this report we will be looking at the best practices for website navigation and will get into detail of how each practice can affect the user experience.
Best Website Navigation Practices
1. Visitors Should Experience What They Expect
A website should offer its visitors and users what they expect in the first place. This does not mean that your website should be the same as everybody else’s in your relevant industry. A unique website’s main elements are the interface design and content, not the navigation. A user that visits your website should not have to learn how to navigate. An ideal website with a navigation design will offer a seamless user experience and navigate its users through where you want them to go. If the users get confused the moment they landed on your website, there is a high chance they will not convert and cause a high bounce rate, which impacts your SEO score as well as your sales and brand image negatively. Most of the time, a user visits your website knowing what they want in the first place. It’s the website’s job to navigate them through where they need to go. If you confuse them with a flashy design that provides a poor navigation experience, chances are they will look elsewhere. Minimalistic design that offers easy navigation would be the best practice.
2. Navigation Design Must Be Unchanging
Consistency is the key in website navigation design. It is not a good idea to use different colors on every page. As a good practice, it is essential to choose a color palette consisting of 2-3 colors and use them accordingly all around the website. Imagine you have call-to-action (CTA) buttons placed strategically all around the website. Using a different color for each would create confusion. These action-buttons that play a critical role in navigation design should all look similar. More importantly, the color choices are important as well. For instance, for a cleaning company, brown colored CTAs would create a negative effect. The colors should align with the industry and the brand image and should be used accordingly. Our Edmonton web designers understand the importance of a consistent design and offer a design experience that is seamless and smooth.
3. Navigation Must Be Straightforward
We see a lot of complex designs and design items such as mage menus and sub menus that create confusion among the users. Even if you are tech-savvy, one must understand that a lot of people are not. By introducing them all your pages and website elements on a design element such as mega-menu, you overwhelm your users by introducing many elements that they do not need.
In a good navigation design, we ideally want our users to access to the information they want in 2-3 clicks. For most important aspects such as the most desired service or a product, one click is all they should need.
Elements such as mega menus and sub menus also possess the risk of losing your users attention. Even if we consider that they are patient and are willing to click through your whole website, in doing so we ask them to click many times on many pages, hence the risk of losing their attention.
For websites with huge amounts of information and pages, this does not mean losing on your possible clicks on your less-relevant pages. As Edmonton web design firm, we first ask our clients about which pages are the most important and should be visible. These pages are the most important and visitors should have immediate access to. Usually, these pages consist of high-importance landing pages, contact page and service/product pages. The other pages such as long-tail keyword focused pages or the pages that offer extensive content can be found by hyperlinks or by using a search bar design. So if a visitor searches for specific keywords, we can easily eliminate all other pages and show the pages that contain those specific keywords.
3. Navigation Should Be Visible and Clear
A website’s navigation should be visible and easy to access for all users. As a rule, our Edmonton web design company keeps all the important navigation elements visible and plain to see in the website’s header. This rule allows us to make the navigation easy to find and clear to all users. By placing the most important navigation elements in the header, we position the navigation elements where the users would expect, so they can easily access to the page they need to go. Additionally, if the content on the pages are lengthy and long, we recommend sticky headers to make it easy for users that want to click on a different page.
With the rising importance of responsive web design, the design experience changed in a major way between desktop and mobile users. It is important for us web designers to keep this in mind and design different elements for both desktop and mobile platforms. On a mobile device, we do not have the luxury of space that we have in the desktop computers. We usually hide the menu in what we call “hamburger menu.” Mobile navigation therefore is not exactly visible, however it’s clear and predictable where it is.
These are the fundamental website navigation design practices that you can apply to provide a seamless and easy navigation experience for your users. We at Vanqor understand the importance of navigation design and plan our strategy to offer the best user experience possible for your visitors. Contact us to discuss your project.