8 Principles for Improving Website Navigation

Website Navigation

 50% of internet users aren’t able to use a standard menu correctly. Imagine how few people would find the right content with no navigation at all.

With the right approach to navigation and menus, you can bring the percentage way below 50%. That will reduce your bounce rates, increase your average time on site, and lead to more traffic, leads, and customers.

Types of Navigation

1. Global Website Navigation

Global website navigation refers to the menu or links that are present on every page of a website, allowing users to access key areas of the website from anywhere. The global navigation typically includes links to the home page, about page, contact page, product or service pages, and any other important areas of the site. It is important for global navigation to be clear, concise, and easy to use, so that users can quickly find what they are looking for and navigate around the site without difficulty. Global navigation can be implemented in various ways, such as a header menu, a sidebar menu, or a footer menu, depending on the website’s design and layout.

2. Hierarchical Website Navigation

Hierarchical website navigation refers to a structure of organizing website content in a hierarchical or tree-like manner, with main categories at the top and subcategories below them. This type of navigation is commonly used in websites that have a lot of content and information to organize, such as e-commerce sites or large corporate websites.

In a hierarchical navigation system, users start with the main categories and can then drill down into subcategories and sub-subcategories to find specific information or products. This type of navigation can help users to easily understand the organization of the site and find the information they need quickly.

Hierarchical navigation can be implemented in various ways, such as using drop-down menus or expanding menus, breadcrumb navigation, or using a site map. The effectiveness of hierarchical navigation largely depends on the clarity and simplicity of the labeling and organization of the categories and subcategories.

3. Local Website Navigation

Local website navigation refers to the menu or links that are specific to a particular section or page of a website. Unlike global navigation, which appears on every page of the website, local navigation is typically found only on the page or section of the website it pertains to.

Local navigation can help users to more easily navigate within a specific section of a website, such as a product category or a blog archive. It can also help to highlight important or popular pages within that section, such as a featured product or a top-rated blog post.

Local navigation can be implemented in various ways, such as using a sidebar menu, a breadcrumb trail, or a tabbed navigation system. The effectiveness of local navigation largely depends on the clarity and simplicity of the labeling and organization of the links, as well as their relevance to the content on the page or section.

What makes Navigation good?

Designing good website navigation always puts the user first, with clear and easily understandable language that links to the most important pages. It utilizes design techniques such as ample white space and color changes to make it distinguishable from the main content, making it more legible and accessible on all devices including mobile and desktop.

Furthermore, user-focused navigation considers the context of the user’s experience and expectations. For instance, online newspapers still have a “crowded” design because their users expect an extensive menu of categories and subcategories in the context of reading a newspaper.

8 Principles for Improved Website Navigation

 
1.Plan Your Page Structure and Navigation: 

Plan Your Page Structure and Navigation” refers to the process of designing and organizing a website’s content and navigation in a way that is intuitive and user-friendly. This involves identifying the main categories of content and organizing them in a logical and easy-to-understand manner.

To plan your page structure and navigation, you should start by identifying the main categories of content that your website will include. This might include pages like “About Us,” “Products and Services,” “Contact Us,” or “Blog.” Once you have identified these categories, you should organize them in a hierarchical structure that reflects their relationship to one another.

2.Follow Established Standards

“Follow Established Standards” in website navigation refers to the best practices and guidelines that have been established by the web design industry to help create a consistent, intuitive, and user-friendly experience for website visitors. Following established standards means adhering to commonly accepted practices, such as using a clear and consistent layout, using familiar icons, and placing the navigation in a prominent location on the page.

By following these standards, users will be able to navigate your site more easily and efficiently, as they will be familiar with the conventions and patterns that they have seen on other websites. Additionally, following established standards can help to ensure that your website is accessible to as many users as possible, including those with disabilities or who use assistive technologies.

Let’s build your website following all the principles.
3.Use Your Users’ Vocabulary

“Use Your Users’ Vocabulary” in website navigation refers to the practice of using language and terminology that is familiar and understandable to the target audience of the website. This means avoiding technical jargon, industry-specific terms, or any language that the user may not be familiar with.

To use your users’ vocabulary effectively, it’s important to understand who your target audience is and what their needs and preferences are. You can do this by conducting user research, such as surveys or focus groups, to gain insight into the language and terminology that your audience uses to describe your products or services.

When creating your website navigation, use clear and descriptive labels that accurately convey what the user can expect to find when they click on them. Avoid using vague or ambiguous language that may confuse users. For example, if you’re creating a website for a restaurant, use labels like “Menu,” “Locations,” and “Reservations” instead of more technical or industry-specific terms like “Cuisine,” “Branches,” or “Bookings.”

4.Use Responsive Menus Use

 Responsive Menus” in website navigation refers to the practice of designing menus that are optimized for different screen sizes and devices, such as smartphones, tablets, and desktop computers. Responsive menus ensure that your website navigation is easy to use and accessible, regardless of the device that the user is using to access your site.

To use responsive menus effectively, it’s important to consider the different ways that users interact with your website on different devices. For example, on a desktop computer, users may be using a mouse to navigate your website, while on a mobile device, they will be using their fingers to tap on the screen. Responsive menus take these differences into account and adjust the design of the menu accordingly.

There are several types of responsive menus, including:

  • Hamburger menu: A popular design pattern for mobile devices, the hamburger menu is a three-line icon that expands to reveal the full navigation menu when clicked.
  • Accordion menu: This type of menu collapses sections of the menu into expandable and collapsible panels, making it easy to navigate on mobile devices with limited screen space.
  • Dropdown menu: This type of menu displays a list of menu items when the user clicks on a specific category, making it easy to access subcategories or subpages.

By using responsive menus, you can create a website that is accessible and easy to navigate on any device, which will help to improve the user experience and keep users engaged with your content.

5. Take Advantage of Your Footer Menu

“Take Advantage of Your Footer Menu” refers to the practice of including important links and information in the footer section of a website, which is located at the bottom of the page. A footer menu can be used to provide users with quick access to important pages or information, and can also improve the overall user experience of the site.

To take advantage of your footer menu, you should consider including the following types of information:

  1. Contact information: Include your phone number, email address, and physical address in the footer menu to make it easy for users to get in touch with you.
  2. Social media links: If you have social media profiles, include links to them in the footer menu so that users can follow you and stay connected with your brand.
  3. Navigation links: Include links to important pages like “About Us,” “Contact Us,” “FAQs,” or “Privacy Policy” to make it easy for users to find the information they need.
  4. Copyright information: Include copyright information in the footer menu to indicate that your website and its content are protected by law.

By taking advantage of your footer menu, you can improve the overall user experience of your website and provide users with easy access to important information. This can help to increase user engagement and drive conversions for your business.

6.Use Color and White Space to Separate Navigation from Other Elements

“Use Color and White Space to Separate Navigation from Other Elements” refers to the practice of using visual design elements to distinguish the navigation menu from the rest of the content on the website. This can be accomplished by using contrasting colors, whitespace, or other design techniques that make the navigation menu stand out from other elements on the page.

To use color and whitespace effectively in website navigation, you should consider the following tips:

  1. Choose contrasting colors: Use colors that are visually distinct from the rest of the page to make the navigation menu stand out. For example, if the rest of the page has a white background, use a dark color for the navigation menu.
  2. Use whitespace: Give the navigation menu enough space so that it doesn’t appear cluttered or crowded. This will help to make it easier to read and use for users.
  3. Keep it consistent: Use consistent colors and whitespace throughout the website to create a cohesive design and improve the user experience.
  4. Consider using visual cues: Use visual cues like arrows or icons to indicate dropdown menus or submenus within the navigation.

By using color and whitespace effectively in website navigation, you can improve the user experience of your website and make it easier for users to find the information they need. This can help to increase engagement and drive conversions for your business.

7. Avoid Dropdown Menus:

It is a principle for improved website navigation that suggests avoiding the use of dropdown menus. Dropdown menus are a type of navigation menu that displays a list of options when a user hovers over or clicks on a main navigation item.

Here are some reasons why you might want to avoid dropdown menus:

  1. They can be difficult to use: Dropdown menus can be confusing for users, especially if there are multiple levels or layers. Users may have trouble finding the information they need or navigating back to previous pages.
  2. They can be slow to load: Dropdown menus can slow down the loading speed of your website, especially if there are many options or images.
  3. They can hide content: Dropdown menus can hide important content from users, especially if they are using a mobile device or have a smaller screen size.

To avoid dropdown menus, you can try the following tips:

  1. Use a single level of navigation: Limit your navigation menu to a single level of options to make it easier for users to find what they need.
  2. Use clear and concise labels: Use clear and concise labels for your navigation menu items to make it easy for users to understand what they are clicking on.
  3. Use a search bar: Provide a search bar on your website to help users quickly find the content they need.

By avoiding dropdown menus, you can improve the user experience of your website and make it easier for users to find the information they need. This can help to increase engagement and drive conversions for your business.

8. Flatten Your Structure:

Flatten Your Structure is a principle for improved website navigation that suggests flattening the structure of your website’s navigation. Flattening your website structure refers to reducing the number of levels or layers in your navigation menu.

Here are some reasons why you might want to flatten your website structure:

  1. They can simplify the user experience: A flattened website structure can make it easier for users to navigate your website and find the information they need.
  2. They can improve mobile responsiveness: Flattening your website structure can improve the mobile responsiveness of your website, making it easier for users to navigate your site on a mobile device.
  3. They can improve SEO: Flattening your website structure can make it easier for search engines to crawl and index your website, which can improve your search engine rankings.

To flatten your website structure, you can try the following tips:

  1. Limit the number of top-level navigation items: Focus on the most important pages or sections of your website and limit the number of top-level navigation items to make it easier for users to find what they need.
  2. Use subcategories sparingly: If you need to use subcategories, try to limit them to no more than two levels to avoid overwhelming users with too many options.
  3. Use internal linking: Use internal linking to connect related pages and make it easier for users to find related content on your website.

By flattening your website structure, you can improve the user experience of your website and make it easier for users to find the information they need. This can help to increase engagement and drive conversions for your business.

Author's Bio

Sunil Vallala

UX/UI Designer with hands on experience in building ideas from scratch with the core belief that design is a catalyst for change in any business.

Razor sharp skills in executing a broad range of projects

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8 Principles for Improving Website Navigation

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