Designing the website navigation is the fundamental step to building your website. Getting it right is essential for your website’s success as it will determine whether your site creates confusion or appears as a well-organized and well-framed design that takes your customers exactly where they want to go. It not only helps the customers get around the website but, helps you as the website developer displays the most important information on your site. Navigation is the doorway that guides customers through the content of the website.
A good website navigation design helps the user to easily surf and go through the website, leading to better interest generation and conversion. So, your ability to lay a good foundation to the website will determine to a great degree the success you will generate. Here are some rules to take into account for an effective navigation system.
1. Plan the Information Architecture (IA) First
You need to develop the content for the website before engaging with the design layout for navigating the site. The usability of the website depends on your ability to have an overview of the content and at the same time be able to understand and manipulate it. The design must be approached keeping in mind the users’ perspective and their ability to relate to the content rather than the creator’s vision.
What you need to consider are the pages that can be created so that content can be divided into paragraphs to form into sensible sub-headings or content tabs, making it relatable and functionally feasible for all types of users and allow for future addition to the page.
2. Simplicity is the Key to Navigation
Users want to access the information they want without much difficulty or without too much time consumption. Keeping the navigation simple will ensure that the usability of the website is not hampered.
Make sure that the navigation bar is visible and easy to spot, and not cluttered within the content. The navigation area itself should not be crowded, and users should be presented with minimum choices without it limiting their options. Organizing the content effectively is key to simplifying navigation which will be beneficial both for the customers and the owners of the website.
3. Pick the Right Orientation
As the screen of a computer is generally in landscape format, it makes sense to orient your navigation horizontally to make for easier viewing. However, e-commerce websites, which have to list numerous articles, tend to go for vertical navigation. This is done to avoid cluttering that would have resulted if they picked the horizontal orientation.
This is rarely an important decision as most web designers will make your site fully responsive to all the different devices (laptop, phone, or pad) in common use today. Every Site Web Design Proof build works well on all platforms
4. Use Sub-headings and Titles that are Obvious
It is important to list the navigation bar in a way so as to correctly lead the customer to the desired content on the website. The purpose of a tab or button should be indicative in the name or title of the tab. The use of ambiguous or misleading terms will misdirect customers, and this will imply the failure of the navigation system. The purpose of effective navigation design is to direct the customers to desired destinations that are relevant to the customers’ intention of visiting the website, to begin with.
Using general terms can lead to the term covering a broad area that is not conducive to the customer or site owner’s purpose or end. Hence, it is essential that terms denote correctly and precisely what content lies within them.
5. Lesser the Options, the More Effective
The idea is not to confuse the website users but to make the experience least chaotic. Keep the number of available options minimum but sufficient for the customers. The number of options available should be sufficient without overwhelming the users of the website. Keep the number of navigation menus at a minimum. Creating sub-sections within top-level buttons helps to breakdown the content into clearly defined sections. A top-down menu is the most popular option when it comes to breaking down the content of the website. A long list can prevent users from gaining access to the most important content of the site.
6. Consistency is important for a Website
It is important that the navigation design is consistent throughout the site. A user-friendly site is one in which content is laid out consistently to familiarize the format to the customer. The same color, font, type, and place of the navigation bar should be maintained throughout the site so as not to be frustrating for visitors who are likely to direct their searches to other websites. Navigation should be designed so as to give users an easy knowledge of how to move through the site without being bothered by familiarizing them with new designs with every passing page.
To keep the customers from shifting allegiance out of frustration, it is essential that they feel like they know the page well and can navigate it without any problem. Familiarity, in this case, does not breed contempt.
7. Apply the Three-Click Rule and Make the User Aware of the Page they are at
The three-click rule simply states that the users should be able to reach or access the information they seek within three clicks. And upon finding the required data, they should be aptly reminded and made aware of the information thus uncovered. The three-click rule minimizes the time and effort required to get access to the information desired. Minimum efforts but the maximum results are the key philosophy of this rule. Otherwise, users might get frustrated.
The user, upon reaching the information must be made aware that what the user sought has been found. Highlight the section that they are in. It must also be ensured that a key to the main menu or home page is provided so that in one click, the user is able to go back to the main page.