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Does your your site navigation put off your visitors?

Website navigation

If visitors can't find what they are looking for quickly they will simply leave your site, finding another which is easier to browse through so it is essential to get your navigation perfect.

  • Primary navigation
    Keep it simple and clear and don't offer too many navigation options. Keep the primary navigation near the top of your pages and keep it consistent across every page. Content Management Systems are great at providing a standard template across all pages. Don't make your visitors have to relearn the navigation on every page. If you have many pages then group your primary navigation into areas that can cover several pages - for example if you have lots of products group them throgh a product page.
  • Do not bury your content too deep
    Do not make visitors have to dig to deep to find your content, try to keep your navigation to no more than three levels deep. Consider using breadcrumbs, links to previous or higher level pages if your site has a complex and deep structure, so visitors can be aware of their navigation trail and find their way back.
  • Use the footer
    Many pages may require a link on every page, but adding everything into your primary navigation will clutter it up - use additional navigation link in the footer of your pages. Ideal links could be terms and conditions, privacy policy and contact us.
  • Include links with your page copy
    Use relevant phrases within the body of your text to link directly to other pages, this helps your visitors to get to the information they want quickly and is also an essential Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) must have.
  • Avoid complex navigation systems
    Complicated JavaScript or Flash based menus can cause problems for some users and may not work across all browsers and devices so either be willing to test extensively or to keep it basic.
  • Search box
    Consider using a search box, most commonly found in the top right hand corner, allowing visitors to search all of your pages for the content they are after.
  • Sitemap
    Regarded now as quite old-school, however a sitemap can provide enormous help for some visitors who just can't seem to find the page they need. It will usually list all pages on your site in a basic way and can also help search engines find their way round your site.

The ultimate aim for a professional navigation structure is just this: don't make your visitors have to think about where the need to go and how to get there. Make it easy for them.

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