Is Your Website’s Navigation As Intuitive As It Ought to Be?
In “Don’t Make Me Think”, Steve Krug starts the book off by stating the most important thing to make sure a web site is easy to use is… not to make people think.
While there are many areas where a website can be structured to create a great user experience, navigation plays a crucial role and rightly so.
Review these elements and see if you’re on the right path to a better navigation.
People expect navigation links to be on the top or running down the side of the page. They can accept a little variation like having the navigation above, to the side or under your logo. They can even accept it being a combo of both top and side navigation especially if you have a lot of different categories or sub-topics. Just don’t make people hunt around for it or play hide and seek with images to get to it.
Part of placement is being able to recognize navigational links. Watch that it doesn’t blend so well into your design that people have to wonder if those are navigational links.
Once people see and use your navigation, they are going to expect it will be in the same place with similar design and options. Small changes like having a new sub-navigation in each category are OK.
However, don’t move it entirely or completely change the look and feel of the navigation from page to page or section to section.
3. Service Links
Other things people expect are links to Help, Cart, About, Contact, Login, Home. Give it to them. Up top, clear and visible.
Once, we had a site design where the “Support” links is at the bottom. We’d get people telling us they can’t find a way to contact us or get help because there were no support links on the site. They were there of course but people simply didn’t see it. Needless to say we switched and now all our Service Links are the top, clearly defined.
4. Where Am I?
Good navigation should in some way communicate where visitors are in your site. This gives people some sense of direction.
You can do this in a variety of different ways using breadcrumbs, different colors, bullets, icons and clever design that make your navigation tab appear to pop out on the current page or category.
While this is not part of a navigation menu – although it could be. Some visitors are search happy and would almost always search first navigate later. Also, when they still can’t find what they want using your navigation, the search option for them to fall back on.
If your navigation menu has room for it, integrate search in it. Otherwise, find a high visibility spot for it.
Finally, don’t forget to listen to what people are telling you (or complaining about). If people can’t find what they are looking for on a regular basis, something is wrong.
Founder of TechBasedMarketing, Lynette Chandler helps small business owners use technology with an eye on marketing. Find her at http://TechBasedMarketing.com and grab your list of “180 Free Tools To Build Your Business” while you’re there.
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