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How to Design a Better Website Navigation

From a user experience standpoint, almost no other aspect of your website design is quite as important as the navigation. How you design your site’s navigation will affect how people search for the information they need on your website, how easy your website is to use, and how easy it is for website visitors to become clients or customers

Not only does the navigation of your site affect the user experience; it also affects how your site ranks in the organic search results. This, of course, affects how many people have the potential to see your website.

There’s no doubt about it, having the right navigation design is an important part of getting the design of your site right. In this blog, I hope to help you learn what you need to in order to design the kind of navigation that will please users and search engines alike.

6 Ways to Make Navigating Your Site Better

#1. Plan ahead.

Before you sit down at your computer to design your websites, you’ll want to plan it out on paper or in a spreadsheet. The first step of doing this is making a list of all of the pages you know you want to include on your site. If you’re not sure what those pages should be, here’s a quick look at the pages on your average websites.

Local Business Sites:

  • Home
  • About Us
  • Our Story
  • Services
  • Pages for Each Service
  • Image Gallery
  • Testimonials
  • Contact Us
  • Blog

E-Commerce Sites:

  • Home
  • About Us
  • Our Story
  • Shop
  • Product Category Pages
  • Product Pages
  • Testimonials
  • Contact Us
  • Blog

This is just a basic starting off point. You can, of course, include a greater or fewer number of pages on your site. Once you have your list, you can group the pages that go together, and decide which ones will be in the main menu and which ones will be in the sub-menu.

#2. Use descriptive names.

What you name the pages on your website plays a part in how they rank. It also gives your visitors more information about exactly what you have to offer. For example, instead of calling your services page “Services,” if you’re a plumber, call it “Plumbing Services.”

What you label the pages in your navigation has a bearing on the organic rankings of your website. You’ll never rank for the term “product,” and no one who is ready to make a purchase of any kind is searching for it anyway, so why not label the page something a little more specific and search-engine friendly, like “women’s shoes.”

#3. Don’t go overboard in the main navigation.

If you’ve got a lot of pages on your website, it’s definitely not a bad thing. However, there’s absolutely no reason to include all of those pages in the main navigation of your website. If there are a million links on your homepage, it’s going to look messy and overly crowded.

At most, you should only try to include seven pages in the main navigation of your site. Your other pages can be sub-menu options. Just like the rest of the tips I’ve covered so far, limiting the number of pages in the main menu of your website is beneficial for both visitors and search engines.

For visitors, a limited main menu makes it easier to find the right next step in the process and find the information they’re looking for. For search engines, a simpler menu helps you establish which pages on your site are most authoritative.

#4. Consider a mega menu instead of a dropdown menu.

If you have a lot of pages on your site, like, for example, you have an e-commerce store with lots of product categories and subcategories, then you’ll probably want to avoid a basic dropdown menu, especially if there are layers and layers of subcategories that lead to multiple menus being opened.

For more basic sites, with 10 or so pages, having a simple dropdown menu can work. However, when there are a lot of pages involved, these menus can make your site look overly busy and complex. Plus, it doesn’t lead to the best user experience for your mobile visitors.

A better alternative is a mega dropdown menu, which features all of the main categories and subcategories on your site in one large menu. This will make it much easier for your visitors to see which categories are available.

#5. Link your homepage to your logo.

Most businesses will want to include their logo at the upper left-hand corner of their website, and it’s important to ensure that your logo links back to the homepage of your website. Why? Because it’s something that’s common on many websites, and people have come to expect it. If people aren’t able to get back to your homepage by clicking on your logo, it will negatively impact their experience.

#6. Learn from others.

When it comes to designing your navigation, it’s a mistake to try to reinvent the wheel, so to speak. A little creativity is almost never a bad thing, but when it comes to website navigation, it’s often best to stick with what works. That means sticking with something a little more conventional.

There’s a reason why conventions are conventions; they work! I’m not saying that it’s never appropriate to buck tradition, but the only time you should try is if you have an idea that will work better.

If you’ve got a typical local business site or e-commerce site, you’ll probably be better off sticking with a more traditional navigation style. However, if your site is for something more unique, like a site for a political candidate or an author, a more unique menu might be a better choice.

The navigation of your website plays a role in the kind of experience it provides for your visitors, as well as how well your site ranks in the organic search results. Suffice it to say, it’s important to get it right. Start designing your website, and the right kind of navigation, with the Websites 360® website builder today!