The Dos and Don’ts of website navigation
The navigation of a website itself is probably more important than you might think. It can easily be overlooked, but if implemented correctly, it can positively affect your traffic, lead generation, and user experience. What is the ideal way to structure your website?
There are different types of navigation menus, including:
1) Horizontal navigation
This is the most common form of website navigation, running horizontally across the screen. It’s a standard in web design and development, and users are already familiar with it.
2) Dropdown navigation
This type of navigation is ideal for big websites with lots of pages and content. For the main navigation (the one on top), you should choose the most important topics for your users, and break down the rest of the pages underneath those topics.
3) Hamburger navigation
Another type of navigation that users are familiar with is the hamburger navigation. It’s mostly found on mobile websites. The hamburger navigation is a three-lined icon with a vertical dropdown menu when clicked. Even though it’s used a lot, it feels a little weird to see it somewhere else than on a phone or a small screen.
4) Vertical sidebar navigation
The vertical sidebar navigation has the menu stacked on top of each other, offering a seamless user experience. If it goes with the whole website, there is nothing that speaks against having a vertical sidebar navigation. However, it’s less popular than the horizontal menu. If you have to name your pages longer and you feel as if a horizontal menu is not doing it for you, give it a try!
Now that we know what we can choose from, let’s see what we want to do and don’t want to do with our navigation.
We say yes to…
A simple and intuitive navigation is the key to a good user experience. Users should be able to find what they’re looking for without any obstacles. A good rule of thumb is to have a maximum of six navigation options in your menu.
Go for only one layout for your navigation and keep it the same on all subpages. If the menu randomly changes on a subpage, it creates confusion. Make it easy for the users to navigate on your site.
3) The most important information goes on the first level
Make it easy for the users to find what they’re looking for as soon as they visit your website. There is something called the „three-click rule“ that states that every user should be able to find what they’re looking for within three clicks.
4) Don’t forget the search bar
Make sure to implement a search bar within your menu and make it easy to find. There is nothing more annoying than not finding what you’re looking for on a website, and then in addition to that, you can’t find the search bar. I don’t have to tell you that a user will jump off your page after that.
And we say no to…
1) Overloaded menus
Too many pages in a menu can be overwhelming for a user, so make sure you have your menu and structure organized. Plan out what will be the most important pages for your users.
2) Confusing labels
Make sure it’s clear to the user what they can expect when clicking on a link. Try to avoid overcomplicated words or technical terms that users may not understand.
3) Too much color and fonts
Keep your menu simple and don’t overfill it with colors and different kinds of fonts. You may want your website to stand out, but the navigation should not be the part that’s outstanding. So, keep it simple and clean.