Now here’s one part of a web design you may have left on the back burner. Colors, images, and general appearance of a website are typically the first priorities. But what about the little-realized importance of your website navigation bar?
Without careful planning and organization of your website’s navigation – visitors could end up leaving in frustration. To determine the best way to organize your website navigation bar and create a website that’s irritation-free, consider the following 6 tips.
1. Predictability is good.
Predictability and design usually shouldn’t go hand in hand, but when it comes to your navigation bar’s design it’s certainly a benefit.
When users visit your website, you want them to find your pages without a second thought. Where should they click to contact you? Oh! The ‘Contact’ tab.. That makes sense.
Recently we redesigned a client’s website and noticed a few of their existing tabs were a bit misleading. The page that listed their different services was titled ‘Experience’. While this could make sense, generally services are listed under a ‘Services’ tab. Experience could mean a range of things, from a photo gallery of past jobs to a description of their experience.
2. Shorten drop downs.
In regard to your navigation bar’s drop downs, the shorter the better. Long drop downs are hectic and the enemy of good user experience. If they go below the fold of your website, information will either be cut off or users will have to scroll to find it.
3. Give popular information a permanent home.
If many users visit your website in search of contact information, don’t make them click through your navigation bar. Speed up their journey by listing your phone number at the top of your website.
Do you have an eCommerce website? Your shipping charge would be great information to list here.
5. Lay off the keywords.
Search engine optimization and keyword use is great – in your navigation bar not so much. There’s simply not enough room to include most keywords without it looking awkward and forced.
“Our approach to everything #SEO is to put real users before search engines.” @osc_webdesign #searchengineoptimization #ux
If users are struggling to find specific pages because of forced keywords – they’re going to have a very poor user experience. If there are in fact places where it makes sense to use keywords, by all means use them.. just don’t get too caught up on it.
6. Pay attention to placement.
Have you heard of the serial position effect? Basically, as humans our brains tend to pay the most attention to the first and last things we see.
When deciding in what order to list links in drop downs or tabs in your navigation bar, think about which pages are most important to your visitors. This is why the contact page is typically last; it’s an important one.
Launching a new website without an organized navigation bar is like sending visitors down the creek without a paddle. With a bit extra attention and planning, you can be certain you won’t lose visitors along the way!