11 Tricks To Create A Perfect Website Navigation

Having a simple yet effective design for your website could be compared to having a solid foundation for a house. You could say it is just as important as the design of house itself.

No matter how your home is designed an unstable foundation can make it crumble and that is exactly the same with the importance of website navigation.

If a business, house or a company wants to extract good benefits in the form of ROI and good conversions having a perfect design is imperative. The website design and navigation should be flawless as even one mistake can cost you heavily.

Let us now find out what Navigation is?

Navigation is both the system a user uses to move around a website and also visually manifesting these systems.

A website navigation system has two main functions:

  • To inform the user where they are
  • To help the user to go somewhere else.

In case of text based hyperlinks navigation also tells user where they have been.

We can say that navigation is like many other things in design but it is very important part. There are many ways to think and organize it effectively to minimize the risk of failure.

Let us have a look at some of the important rules for designing an effective navigation system.

1. Finalizing information architect:

One of the most important rules is to finalize the content of your website before the design and navigation. Designing a navigation system before hand is just like creating a book index before type-setting the pages and that certainly is not a great idea.

Content is the very lifeline of website and it should be created from the users point of view. After this work gets completed navigation design can be decided. Make sure you have this step clear. Content that is too short or too long can create problems with the website design that can drastically reduce user experience and likely will be a loss to you in terms of customers.

2. Keep it as simple as possible:

Another important thing in designing a navigation for a website is to keep it as simple as it can be. Trend these days is to be very selective as a navigation with a huge text is a super flop idea that can do more harm than benefits.

But the plain simplicity does not work so well today, the real art is to pack the complex things in simple packing that looks more appealing. You need to make sure the navigation is easy to understand for a user and he/she does not face any issue navigating between pages especially if you have a retail website.

If your navigation is complex and user is not drive to the page you intended them to be you may lose your customer. Navigation should be simple and powerful enough to drive the customers to respective product / internal pages.

3. Carefully chosen orientation:

No doubt horizontal navigation makes more sense, it looks more balanced, also easy to place but the fact is that in reality horizontal menus do not add much values. Today vertical navigation is much more popular especially on e-commerce sites as it helps a person to finds products/services easily in a catalogue and avoids much clutter.

Navigation is like a map of your website. It drives the users towards internal pages to explore your website. Vertical navigation can contain long or short list of links which will be more pleasing and attractive. Just make sure that customer is not confused in terms of where to click on as confusion will lead to bad impression and ultimately a loss in terms of customer.

4. Language used be user friendly:

Language used in the menu navigation should be user friendly and this factor should never be ignored. A user’s experience is of utmost importance as user should be able to understand the language that is used in the menu as if a user is not familiar with the language used he/she may switch over to other website that can prove very detrimental to the company/business house. Language used should be familiar to the user to get the most benefits.

If you are targeting global customers, you need to make sure that your website supports different languages as per the visitor region. Content and navigation language should be local as per the region from where the visitor hit came.

5. Use web conventions:

Conventions exists as they are based on the workable ideas and are usually followed by everyone so they become a convention. Using a design convention works quite well and only time one thinks of deviations when a person has some good and better idea.

Below are certain conventions that one must follow and never deviate from:

  • Main navigation
  • Logo Placement
  • Link Styling
  • Button Functionality
  • Standard Icons
  • Visual Hierarchy
  • Clear Naming

Don’t break these conventions until and unless you know what you are doing as if you will make the user think then you will loss the visitor. An easy to navigate website with proper followed conventions is likely to make your visitors happy which will make them to visit again.

6. Primary Navigation:

Primary navigation is better known as main navigation the one finds at the top of the page on nearly every website. This includes the home page, about us and contact us as main elements. If this is made easy for a user to understand and use then user will stay on your page for longer time and also this thing is quite sure that he will come back again and again on your website.

If not properly implemented or broken, it will make customers feel frustrated in case they are lost in internal pages. This is something you as a website owner will not want. Make sure that customers are properly navigated to home page when they feel lost in internal pages or when they want to jump to home page.

7. Logo should be linked to home page:

This is an absolute must as one can easily find examples of site who fail to use this convention. Very popular rule for logo placement is at the top left hand corner or in the centre along the top. Logo should always be linked to the home page as most people follow this convention to get better results.

8. Responsive navigation:

Responsive design in navigation is an approach to create web pages using the rule of flexibility of layouts, images and the main aim is to build web pages that can detect the visitor’s screen size and change the layout accordingly. It has become more important these days as amount of users surfing through mobile for internet has exponentially increased.

Google has also started rating the sites at higher range if they are mobile friendly. Responsive website navigation is an example of user interface elasticity.

9. Sticky navigation:

Sticky Navigation also known as fixed navigation means menu in the website is locked in a place so that it does not disappears when the user scrolls down the page. Today many companies or web designers use sticky navigation system. From the users point of view it is more helpful to the company/business houses.

Having the main menu always at user’s disposal is always beneficial and speedy for him/her to easily flow between pages. It is always a better experience if important links are always displayed on top of everything even when user scrolls too down and he does not need to find the link again by scrolling back between the links.

10. Mega Menus should be used:

Mega menus are basically large panels of navigation that drop down or fly from a new bar. Though they are not right for every site but they can create a good user experience for a user.

Main benefits of using mega menus are that they help to display many options at once. Pictures as well as Icon can be used in mega menus. Mega menus work nicely when used in retail sites where list of categories is quite large.

11. Stay Consistent:

It is very much sure that best navigation should be consistent as the lack of it reduces trust of the user on the site. It also reduces the quality of the user experience as if something is looking too nice to the web designers than be sure that the user will also has the worst experience about you.

Best rule for a nice and clean navigation is consistency as it boots visitor experiences on the site. Another thing that can reduce the quality of navigation is having items on menu that are not linked to internal pages they meant to be. When visitor click on menu items that don’t link, it increased confusion and also frustration on the part of user.

Visual designs can be used to show the linked items and items that are not linked. For example, if you have headers as part of mega menu then use a different font style, colour or white space to indicate they are headers and not links.

Secondary navigation can be designed for the website as well. Apply same rules to the secondary website that you have applied before. Main focus is to give user a rewarding experience. If you have items/Pages that are too important and you want user to have an easy access to a feature, create a block on home page as user usually pay attention to it.

Finally checklist for a good web navigation:

  • Plan your navigation properly at the start of a project.
  • User should know where they are, where they are going and where they have been.
  • It should provide a variety of options.
  • Follow web conventions
  • Use simple user friendly terms.
  • Use block on home page for the feature you want users to pay special attention.
  • Make sure website navigation is working fine on all platform devices for which it is designed.

To conclude we can say that menu navigation is a very important part of website design and it should be always designed accordingly to user view point.

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