No, really. It’s a valid question. Website navigation is simple yet so important. It’s often not given the attention it deserves in the web design process.
According to Usability.gov studies have revealed some pretty incredible stats:
- People can’t find the information they seek on a website around 60% of the time.
- 40% of users don’t return to a site after a bad experience.
- 62% of web shoppers give up looking for the item they want to buy online.
- 50% of potential sales are lost because users can’t find information.
I don’t know about you, but that last figure jumps out at me. Wouldn’t you like to double your online conversions?
If you would, here’s some best practices:
You might understand that “stuff” means “tools”. But put yourself in the shoes of your visitor for a second. Even though “stuff” sounds cooler, do you really think that describes the content?
This is definitely one of those situations where innovation and “standing out” isn’t a virtue. Your visitors come to your page with a certain goal in mind, and confusing them with fancy words isn’t going to do them any good.
Keep your navigation labels conventional.
2. The 3-Click Rule
There’s actually no 3-click rule. In fact, there’s no correlation between the number of clicks to reach content and your conversion rates.
The point is to keep navigation should be easy. There should be a good “flow” to your site. Unfortunately there’s no way to quantify this & there’s no formula. You’ll have to trust your instincts.
I would worry a little bit if your site has less than 100 pages and users can’t find content within 3 or 4 clicks, though.
3. Build Wide – Not Deep
This goes hand in hand with the last point. For a small site, you should try to structure your pages wide rather than deep.
4. Offer a Search Function
Consumers today are so used to just searching for what they’re looking for (it’s likely how they got to your site in the first place), so make ’em feel comfortable.
This is especially important if you have more than 150 pages on your site.
5. Include Breadcrumb Navigation
…but don’t rely on it. Breadcrumb navigation is a great way to tell users where they are on your site, but studies show that many users don’t really know how to use it.
6. Ensure You Have a Sitemap
I mean a sitemap for humans, not search engines. It should list all the pages on your site, organized into sections. If you have a ton of blog posts, you might just have links to the category archives or something.
Make sure that you link to consistently on every page. This is a great fail-safe for those who are really challenged by your website.
Navigation should go at the top, immediately after your header, or along the left side of the window. Don’t get creative with this, because you’ll shoot yourself in the foot.
Make sure that your navigation is in the same location on EVERY page, even if you have a different layout for your home page. The only exception to this is landing pages (more about this in another post).
8. New Windows
This isn’t really about navigation, but it’s important.
If you are opening a new window, make sure you indicate so (notice the little symbol after the links above). If you don’t do that (and it’s an internal page) include a “close” button prominently at the bottom of the page.
Above all, keep it simple. You want your users thinking about the action you want them to perform, not how to get there.
There you have it. 8 quick tips for better site navigation and more conversions!
P.S.: If you have trouble, just ask us to do a website analysis. We’ll review your website’s usability, content, and performance. You can still get $100 until the end of the year!
Here’s 8 examples of great navigation: