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4 Website Navigation Mistakes to Avoid

29/04/2015
Lindsay
Lindsay

It is important to get your website navigation working efficiently to make it easy for visitors to browse your website and find what they’re looking for. If your navigation is difficult to use, it’ll cause the bounce rate to go up as visitors leave your page to search elsewhere. With that in mind, what are some mistakes that many companies make when designing their website navigation and how can you avoid them?

Menu placement

No matter how creative you want to be, never put the menu in a place that makes it difficult to find. Menus are not the place to let your creative flair take over. Standard navigation menus are usually placed either across the top of the site, or vertically down the left or right hand columns. Make sure that you follow this design standard to help visitors to your site to know where to look. To increase the number of pages per visit and get a higher conversion rate, place your menu in a location that’s easy to see.

Vague navigation options

Visitors who can’t find what they’re searching for will look elsewhere if it’s not obvious. Conversely, using generic labels may be missing a trick. Main navigation options are a great way to boost your SEO efforts by including keywords.

Thinking about what your customers will initially be searching for is an effective way to get them to your site in the first place. However, don’t go mad with what you choose for your menu names, as you don’t want to confuse visitors or make it hard to find options such as your contact details, products, services or general information about who you are. Phrases like “About Us” and “Contact Us” are often the first things web users are looking for.

Giving too many options

Drop-down menus are a great way to direct visitors to additional useful information. However, just like the main menu, they should not be overloaded with an extensive list of options. This risks of overwhelming people with choices of pages, could cause them to jump off your site to find something more straightforward. Instead, choose a few key pages to display to encourage users to view more pages during their visit. As a general rule, ensure that the most important options are displayed first in any drop-down menus, as these have the highest engagement.

Studies suggest that an optimum number of main menu options is seven, since this is the maximum number that the short-term memory can hold at one time. Let’s face it, we’ve all seen sites with so many menu items that we’ve had no clue which to pick. Perhaps you’ve even given up and left the page. Keeping your main menu to below seven items will increase the likelihood of visitors who will view multiple pages on your site.

Across-site linking buttons

Linking across your site to direct visitors to pages with further information is a useful way of helping them to navigate to the right parts of your site for what they need. Many websites still use buttons for this, but incorporating hyperlinks within text is a much better way of doing this. Not only will buttons cause text on the link to be invisible in search engines (and therefore harm your SEO efforts), but it will also look messy and take a longer time to navigate. Buttons can give the impression of making a sale too. This makes users more hesitant to click through the link than if it were simply a text link.

Website navigation that is going in the right direction

Avoiding these simple mistakes will give you a great head start in creating an effective navigation menu to increase engagement and conversions. Remember, clarity and simplicity is key. Group together helpful options and prioritise the most important pages. As well as this, you’ll have the added benefit of keywords in your menu and on links (instead of buttons) counting towards your SEO, which will help get more traffic to your site.

For more website design advice, get in touch with the Geeks team today. 

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