Website navigation is fundamental to your online business’ success. If finding information or purchasing your products/services is difficult, chances are you’re killing your conversion and losing customers.
It frustrates me how many online businesses neglect “navigation” in their website usability review. It’s always good to continually check whether your website navigation is still helping you achieve your goals. After several annoying internet experiences recently, I felt it a good time to revisit some simple navigation tips.
1. Use relevant categories for products and information:
It sounds obvious, but many websites fail to use appropriate categories for their services and/or products. When exploring which categories to use, try doing it from a product/service point of view and from a customer centric perspective. Remember not all customers will be familiar with your offerings, so “benefits based” categories make it easier.
2. Navigation should always be visible:
Ever been to a website where the navigation was in the side bar and once you scrolled down you lost all the navigation? Lock your navigation to fixed areas on your pages. The important thing to remember is that navigation should be consistent. If it’s in a particular location on one page, visitors will expect it to be there on other pages.
3. Use breadcrumb trails:
Breadcrumb trails are becoming more and more popular for sites that have several levels of navigation (many categories within categories). With breadcrumb trails, every page on the web page will display the levels of navigation the visitor has gone through to get to their present location. Each level displayed in the breadcrumb trail is a link that allows visitors to navigate back to that section.
i.e. Home / Products / Books / Internet Marketing / Search Engines
4. Links to other relevant areas:
It’s always helpful to include links to other relevant content within your website. Whether you use the sidebar or on-page links, this helps visitors to find all relevant information and services/products. If you own an ecommerce website, this is a great way to increase the value of your orders and sales.
5. Include a search box:
If you have many pages or lots of information within your website, search boxes can be a great addition to your website. It allows visitors to quickly locate the information they are after and can often help them find information/services/products they wouldn’t otherwise have known was available.
Sitemaps are great tools not only for ease of navigation, but for search engine friendliness. Many users now expect websites to have sitemaps, which provide an overview of your websites structure. Think of them like a table of contents for your website. For an example visit our sitemap.
This is not a definitive list of must haves, but the next time you review your website’s navigation, some of these tips might help you improve your visitor’s experience.