A website’s navigation is one of the most important aspects of its design. It serves as a roadmap for visitors, helping them find what they’re looking for and understand the structure of the site.
Well-designed website navigations can help to improve user experience, increase engagement, and drive conversions. On the other hand, poorly designed navigations can lead to user frustration and cause users to quickly leave from your site.
In this article, we’ll go over several key tips for creating user-friendly website navigations.
Keep the navigation simple
Simplicity is key when it comes to website navigation. Visitors should be able to quickly understand the different sections of your site and find what they’re looking for without being overwhelmed by cluttered or complex website navigations.
To keep your navigation simple, minimise the number of menu items and make sure that they are clearly labelled. It’s also important to use a consistent design, with similar font sizes, styles, and colours for all navigation elements. Doing this will help visitors quickly and subconsciously identify the navigation and understand its purpose.
Use an intuitive design
Intuitive design is crucial for creating user-friendly navigations. You might be thinking, how can you make a navigation intuitive? This essentially means that you use design patterns that are consistent with user expectations.
For example, placing your logo in the top-left corner of your site and having a simple menu bar across the top of the page is a common and intuitive design pattern.
In western parts of the world, visitors are far more familiar with this layout than viewing the same example right to left, or perhaps even having the menu at the bottom of the website (which is unconventional).
By following this, users will quickly understand how to use and navigate your site more effectively.
Make the navigation accessible
Accessibility is a critical consideration for all aspects of website design, including the navigation.
Ensuring that your navigation is accessible to all users, including those with disabilities, will help you reach a wider audience and create a better user experience for everyone. As a bonus, Google also favours ranking accessible websites over those that aren’t.
To make your navigation accessible, make sure it can be easily navigated using keyboard controls, such as the tab key. This will allow visitors to use your site even if they are unable to use a mouse.
Additionally, your design should be compatible with screen readers, which are software programs that assist visually impaired users in accessing content on the web.
Use user-friendly drop-down menus
Drop-down menus can be an effective way to organise a large number of sections or pages on your site. However, they can also be difficult to use if they are poorly designed.
When using drop-down menus in your navigation, make sure they open and close smoothly and are clearly labelled. Visitors should be able to easily understand the different sections or pages that are included in each drop-down menu.
Supplement with a breadcrumb navigation
Breadcrumb navigation is a secondary navigation system that shows visitors their current location within your website’s hierarchy. This type of navigation is especially useful for large or complex sites which have many pages.
Breadcrumb navigations provide visitors with an additional way to understand where they are on your site and can help them retrace their steps if they need to.
They also provide context for the current page, making it easier for visitors to understand how the page fits into the larger structure of your website. As a bonus, breadcrumb navigations also help Google better understand your website too.
The example above helps to demonstrate good use of breadcrumb navigations:
- The breadcrumbs help to indicate that the homepage is the main page of this website’s hierarchy (which is true for all websites).
- From the homepage, the user can then navigate to the shop page.
- From the shop page, the user can navigate to the antique globes product category page.
- Finally, it indicates that the user is currently on a specific product page.
For eCommerce websites, including the product category (in this case the antique globes product category) within the breadcrumb navigation is extremely important, as visitors may want to browse other products within this specific category. Therefore, including this can help to increase overall conversion values for eCommerce websites.
Test and refine your approaches
Finally, it’s important to test your navigation with real users, in order to identify any issues and make improvements accordingly.
User testing can provide valuable insights into what works and what doesn’t, therefore, be sure to take advantage of this opportunity to refine your navigation and create the best user experiences possible.
During user testing, pay attention to how visitors interact with your navigation. Look for areas where they may have trouble finding what they’re looking for, including trouble understanding the structure.
By following these tips, you can create user-friendly website navigations that will help visitors quickly and easily find what they’re looking for. This can improve their experience, increase your engagement, and drive quicker conversions.