The Main Site Navigation Errors and How to Avoid Them
A good website with a clear structure, competent content, a beautiful design, and user-friendliness is the basis for representing a business in the digital world.
Let’s assume you open a coffee shop. Having thought out the menu, purchased everything you need, and created a cozy interior design, you need to introduce yourself to the world. Most likely, you will run ads on social media and fashion magazines. The first thing that people will pay attention to (after the specifics and the menu of the coffee shop) will be the location and the shortest route to get there.
Internet users who want to find company information or purchase a product/service turn to website navigation. Don’t underestimate its importance as it affects conversions, traffic, search rankings, and user experience.
In this article, we will talk about the main web.navigation errors and ways to avoid them.
Top – 10 Navigation Errors You Could have Committed
1. The Use of Drop-down Menu
Dropdown menus are generally considered a good idea and are actively used by most websites. But be careful. Navigation elements like this often annoy users since they do not have time to click on the drop-down sub-items. This may lead to low traffic on top-level pages.
We recommend using a dropdown menu only if you have too many sections, and it will help improve the site’s usability. In other cases, give preference to navigation no dropdown.
2. Hidden Navigation Menu
Minimalism is not losing its popularity and is making its imprint on trends in web design. Nowadays, a beautiful site with a minimum of text is not uncommon. You can also find sites with a navigation menu hidden under the icon. This is not a bad idea for a mobile app, but it is not the best option for a desktop version.
3. Quantitative Attack: Too Many Menu Items/Suggestions/Other Links
Keep in mind that quantity is not always equal to quality. Too many clickable elements and long menus may confuse site visitors and reduce their chances of finding what they were looking for. Concise navigation is also important for SEO as it makes the site authoritative in the eyes of search bots. If a navigation page is full of links, it entails a loss of its authority compared to internal pages.
4. Non-standard Location of the Navigation Menu
Users visit sites daily and have long been accustomed to the default location of the navigation menu. This is the top or left side of the page. If you felt like being “different” and placed it elsewhere, this can negatively impact conversion rates and bounce rates because most people won’t want to waste their time on searching. In the case of navigation menu layout, creativity is unnecessary. Adhere to established standards.
The example below shows how a chaotic arrangement complicates the overall perception.
5. Incorrect Order (Sequence) of Website Navigation Buttons
As we have mentioned earlier, our brains get used to a routine. Additionally, a series of experiments by the German psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus on human memory showed that on lists, we remember only the first and last elements, while the middle is often left out. This fact is very important when choosing the sequence of the navigation menu. Important contact information or an offer to register is usually located in the upper right corner of the page, thereby making it easier for users to scan the webpage and find important information.
In the example below, the order and location are incorrect.
6. Generalized Names of Websites’ Menus
The use of generalized names of website navigation menu does not provide users with any specific information on the business. Instead of the “Service” section, choose a name like “Yacht for Rent,” “Take a Dog,” “Order a Set,” etc. This will simplify communication with the audience and help in ranking. This is because users are unlikely to type the words “product” or “service” into the search bar.
Take note of using Google’s Keyword Planner to engage target popular keywords. Read more in the article How to Do Keyword Research.
After choosing keywords and phrases for the names of menu items, try to keep them short and meaningful. The text should be easily readable.
A good example: Battersea, the famous cat and dog shelter, uses targeted words in the navigation menu with which users associate the shelter.
7. Problems With Displaying the Navigation Menu on Mobile Devices
Users browse sites from devices with different screen resolutions. Your main task is to make site navigation trouble-free for them. Believe it or not, no one will want to enlarge the text on their tablet or twist the phone to try to read the necessary information. It is much easier to go in search of a site with the same services adapted for different devices.
8. Failure to Comply With the Preset Tone of the Site
Each site has an individual style of communication with potential buyers. It can be official or not. It’s up to you. A good rule is to observe this style in navigation. If you have chosen a friendly tone of communication, use the appropriate messages: “We will be happy to help you,” “How can we help you?” etc.
9. Simultaneous Use of Multiple Call-to-action Buttons
The use of call-to-action buttons is very important for conversions. You might think that giving users a choice among many CTAs will give you an advantage, but this is not entirely true. When a person sees the buttons such as “subscribe,” “buy,” “sign in,” it misleads them and prevents the achievement of your goal. Before placing a call-to-action button on a page, think about the results you want to achieve. Do not place buttons with conflicting goals.
When you open the Amazon website, only one CTA button pops up – “Sign in.”
10. The Use of Too Large Images (Taking up the Whole Page)
Large images worsen website usability when users try to find the information they need. Users have to scroll through the page for way too long. Give preference to adaptive images and the ability to enlarge them if necessary. This will be useful if users will need to scrutinize some details.
Several Recommendations to Reach Website Navigation Best Practices:
- Don’t overdo it with creativity. Do not forget that the site must be readable and user-friendly.
- Make the navigation menu clear, concise, and visually descriptive.
- Stick to the same navigation style on the main and mobile sites.
- Place your call-to-action buttons wisely.
- Make sure the process of placing an order is simple and not time-consuming.
- Use text links instead of graphical navigation buttons. The latter load is slower and is not visible to search bots.
Website Navigation Design Best Practices
New York Times
This is an excellent example of a news site with a discreet and informative navigation menu that is consistent and everything is in place.
This is the site of an American cosmetics brand: good design, a consistent menu, keywords are used in navigation.
HBO produces a variety of media products. In the meantime, they manage to maintain their conciseness in everything they do, including the official website.
Website navigation errors can not only worsen the experience of users with your site, but it can also negatively affect search rankings. Try to avoid them or correct them in due time.