It's not just about looks, websites need to be user friendly too

Written on the 4 September 2012

Help your customers find what they need instantly

Website navigation is crucial to the success of your customer's user experience on your business website. A great design, pleasant look and easily digestible information are essentials. But at the end of the day, that's not going to keep a user on your site.

Without a tight navigation structure, a website loses all sense of organisation. It acts as a road map guiding your visitors to pages beyond the homepage. At a glimpse, your customer should be able to see what information and different areas are accessible within your site so they can find what they want... quickly!

What can I do to ensure my customers can move efficiently through my website?

1. Content over design
Many web designers will begin creating a design before they even consider the categories they need to include in the site's navigation bar. Think about what content you will offer first and focus on that. This could include pages titled about us, contact us, testimonials, products and services, online store and news or blog.

2. Quality not quantity
Don't overwhelm your customers with too many navigation options. Five to seven key pages are a great way to organise your content and should fit with most designs. Anything beyond this only confuses customers and can limit readability.

3. Keep it simple
Avoid using long phrases in your navigation bar because space is at a premium. Also aim for simple, conventional words that are easily recognisable so your visitor isn't confused about anything. For example, opt for 'contact us' over 'get in touch' for your contact page.

4. Use breadcrumbs
A 'breadcrumb trail' is a row of links that outline how your site is structured. Web designers usually place it at the top of each page, which is very effective because it prevents people from feeling lost on your website. It shows them where they are and how they got there.

Ultimately, your navigation system should be concise, not complex. If it's too complicated, it's a sign that your website is in desperate need of better content planning and organisation.


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