Even the most basic of websites require navigation in some form. Without navigation, your visitors won’t be able to find anything on your website. But, despite its importance, website navigation is still something that many website designers massively underappreciate the importance of.
Here are 4 simple ways of ensuring that your website’s navigation is as effective as possible.
In order to make your navigation tools as useful and effective as possible, you need to keep them consistent across your website. This means that navigation bars should appear on every page and should offer users the same options regardless of where you are on the website.
The purpose of a navigation menu is to make moving around your website as simple and straightforward as possible. If the navigation menu is different on every page, it will make things harder rather than easier. Consistency across your entire website ensures that it is simple for users to find their way from one page to another.
Divide Your Site into Categories
If your website contains a variety of content, using different categories to divide up your content will make things much easier for your users. Of course, in order to reap the benefits of using categories, you need to ensure that the categories you choose are both clear and well defined.
Include a Useful Search Feature or Go Google
If your website contains content in a variety of different categories, a search feature will make it much easier for visitors to find relevant content. However, always remember that Google enables you to search through specific websites using ‘site:example.com search term’. Google also enables you to embed a custom Google search in your website.
If you can’t design a more effective search function than that offered by Google, there’s no sense in offering your users an inferior option. The Google custom search is a great idea if you want to enable users to search through your website as a whole. However, e-commerce businesses that also need to allow customers to search through their product range should consider making their own search system.
Using your own system will enable you to display results for individual products, whereas a Google search will only show an overview of the page itself. For example, check out these search results from Octopart when users search for Mettleair. Not only do the results link to the relevant page, but they also enable viewers to view a datasheet or add the component to their bill of materials. Building your own search feature means you can do more than just search with it.
Make Your Navigation Elements Clickable
Lots of websites use a mouse-over trigger to show all of the subcategories within a particular category. This is a great way of making larger and more diverse websites easier to navigate, but it should ideally be paired with clickable category titles. The ability to click on any category to view it will make it more likely that content is seen across your website.
Your website’s navigation is far too important to be an afterthought. Instead, you should be aiming to consider your navigation as part of your website design from the very beginning. If you can get your navigation options right, you will have no problem retaining visitors and building up your user base.