There is a place for personality, risk-taking, and eccentricity on your company’s website. The site’s navigational structure is not that place.
Your website’s navigation is, rather, a place for informed decisions about your customers’ needs, following tried and true research on people’s ability to consume information, and paying attention to analytics about the sources of your leads.
Website navigation exists for one primary reason: to guide your site visitors to the places on your website they want to go. Simplicity and functionality are the key tenets.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at five guidelines to help you design a site navigation structure that optimizes your website traffic for business conversions and doesn’t confuse or annoy anybody.
1. The magic number
Aim to make your list of main navigation options no more than seven. This jibes with classic research on the human mind’s capacity to process information.
Anything more than seven top navigation items will dilute the impact of each item and cause visitors to skip or gloss over some of the options.
2. Think first and last
Order your top navigation items with intention. The concept of primacy and recency teaches that the first item in your nav list (primacy) and the last (recency) will get the most attention from visitors. Place the items that are most useful to your visitors in these spots.
3. Consider word choice
Phrase your navigation items based on your visitors’ needs. If your site visitors are looking to learn about your products and services, use those relatively generic words to lead off your navigation menu.
If you have a business where actions can be taken online, your menu items can use more active terms, such as “shop now”. If your organization has a variety of clients looking for different things, term your navigation based on each segment’s needs.
A university website, for example, has prospective students, faculty, parents, and alumni all coming to its site. Navigation items that speak to each make the website versatile enough to handle that varied audience.
4. Study how it’s working
Continue to test how your site navigation is functioning once it is online. One simple low-tech method is to bring in someone who is unfamiliar with your site and ask them to find a particular item on your site - a service you offer, for example.
Then watch them use your navigation menu to try to get themselves there. This test will go a long way toward illustrating how well your navigation is functioning.
For data-driven intelligence, use your website analytics to verify who is clicking where. A tool such as Hubspot’s attribution report can track the path through your website taken by people who eventually became customers.
That information will help you prioritize the items that convert leads, as opposed to the ones that just attract the most traffic.
5. Make it consistent throughout
Design your main navigation menu so that it is functional no matter where your site visitors are on your website.
You want your visitors to know they can count on that top navigation menu to remain unchanged and at the top of every page so they always have a predictable path back to your home page or to the other main sections of your site.
Your website's navigation menu is about serving your site visitors with straight-forward guidance that helps them find what they are looking for easily. Keep it succinct and consistent to provide the best user experience.
Thanks for reading,
Breezy Hill Marketing is a Vermont web design company specializing in marketing strategy, social media marketing, and building beautiful, optimized, and mobile responsive websites. We work with clients in Vermont and throughout the United States.