The critical role of website navigation
Have you ever taken a holiday with zero planning in place?
In theory it seemed like a great idea—you were going to throw caution to the wind, kick up your heels, and indulge in every other cliché that sounds good in a Hollywood coming-of-age movie, but that never works in the real world.
Instead, you spent every night trying to find a motel with a spare, bug-free room; ate fast food for breakfast, lunch and dinner; and got lost about eighteen times.
Or maybe that was just us…
Either way, we’re here to tell you that if you put the same lack of structure into your website navigation, you’re liable to provide your users with a similarly disappointing experience.
The big difference being that—with a website—they won’t be sticking around to see if the situation improves, or if they find that ‘hidden beach no one has ever seen.’ They’ll be promptly moving onto your competitor’s site and forgetting yours ever existed.
Perhaps the only second-thought they’ll give you is to leave a negative review on TripAdvisor … err, we mean Google.
“…if you put the same lack of structure into your website navigation, you’re liable to provide your users with a similarly disappointing experience.”
So, what makes for good website navigation? It needs to be simple, logical, and provide exactly what your customer is looking for. Just like an amazing holiday, it needs to deliver the best ‘user journey.’
Here are our top tips for optimising website navigation and delivering a 5-star user journey with great customer service and a later check-out time:
- Less is more: People are time-poor these days. They don’t have the patience to be wading through link after link. You should have as few menu options on your main page as possible—and minimal pages overall. And while overloaded drop-down menus were once the cool thing to do, they are now cumbersome and not user-friendly. Ditch ’em for a cleaner dashboard.
- The specific ocean: You need to be descriptive and very specific with all of your menus and links. From the outset, it needs to be obvious who you are and what you do—and the more descriptive the better, both for the customer experience and for your ranking in search engine results.
- Keep it simple, stupid: You may have heaps of elaborate images and videos that you want to plaster all over your main page, but this is just going to confuse and disorientate your user. We’re all so overloaded with shiny web pages, that the ones with a simpler palette are far more pleasing to the eye. We’re not saying don’t make it look interesting, but that kaleidoscopic backdrop might not be the best design choice.
- You’re out of order: When it comes to the ‘flow’ of your pages, common sense is really the best practise. The way everything works from your main page needs to be logical. If users can’t find what they’re looking for, they won’t be sticking around to look for it. Test it and re-test it with users before making it live.
- Take a load off: There’s no doubt that ‘dynamic’ content like video is incredibly effective for user engagement, but it still needs to be thoughtful. It should be short, sharp and get to the point. Users are not going to wait for anything with a long load time, or watch anything without substance; if you can’t say it in 15 to 30 seconds, it may not be worth saying.
User engagement is a tricky and delicate destination—but with a little planning, you can encourage your users to always holiday at your website.
And if you need experts to optimise the user journey of your website, then we are Dando. Get in contact with us today on 1300 932 435 or firstname.lastname@example.org.