Your website navigation is the menu of options you provide visitors with to find content on your website. No matter how great your design is or how compelling your web content, if your visitors can’t figure out how to find the information they need, they will quickly leave.
Good site navigation tells visitors:
- Where they are
- What content is on the page
- Where they can go next
Designing and Presenting Website Navigation
How you structure your page contents is key to effective website design. Visitors must be able to find the information they are looking for within 2-3 clicks.
The most common placement for website navigation is along the top of your page. Limit your main site navigation topics to 5-7 options, which usually include options like “Home,” “About Us,” “Products and Services,” and “Contact Us.” Each main topic can have several sub-pages that can be displayed as drop-down menu options or along the left or right side of your page in each “main topic” section.
For instance, if your main topic is “About Us,” you may have several sub-pages like “Firm Bios,” “Company Philosophy,” and “Who We Serve.” Those options might appear as a drop down menu when you scroll over your “About Us” menu option with your mouse, or they may appear along the left side of your page when you click on the “About Us” link.
7 Tips for Website Navigation
It’s useful to plan your website navigation structure before you design your website so you don’t forget any pages. Here are seven tips for creating user-friendly website navigation.
- Keep it simple. You want visitors to get to any page of your website within a maximum of 2-3 clicks.
- Be consistent. Use the same navigational elements on all pages of your website.
- Use text navigation, if possible. Text-based navigation is usually easier to understand than graphics. Your site navigation shouldn’t be creative or fancy. Again, keep it simple and easy to understand.
- Avoid generic terms. Your navigation sections should clearly state what content visitors will find if they click on your link. Try to avoid confusing or obscure section names.
- Link back to your homepage. Each page should have a “Home” link in the navigation structure or your logo should link back to your homepage.
- Remind visitors where they are. Use a consistent color scheme for each section or clearly display breadcrumb trails to help visitors determine where they are in the website. Breadcrumb trails show you how many clicks visitors are from the homepage, so at the top of your page, visitors might see Home > Main Section > Sub-Section. For example, Home > Products > Ebooks
By providing clear website navigation, visitors will stay on your site longer and browse more pages. Keep your navigation simple, clean and specific.