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Website Navigation: 8 Tips & Best Practices (Why It’s Important)

UPDATED
April 23, 2024

 

Your website is how you represent yourself online. That’s why your design should be relevant to your brand and appealing to your target audience.

 

Web navigation is also a part of this and can either make or break your web visitor’s experience. So, understanding how it works can help you present a pleasant, intuitive layout while increasing ease of use, allowing users to access the information they want as quickly as possible.

 

But of course, there’s always room for improvement. In this article, we’ll give you 8 tips on how to make your website navigation even better.

 

 

First, What Exactly Is Website Navigation?

 

levels in sitemap

Website navigation allows you to move from one page or section to another.
(Credit: Google Sites)

 

In simplest terms, website navigation is the process of clicking and browsing online content, such as the different web pages that make up a website. Using a web browser, you, a web user, can navigate websites by clicking on links that take you to other pages.

 

You can use one of two types of links to navigate a website:

 

  • External Links: these links lead to other websites.
  • Internal Links: pages on the same website are connected by internal links.

 

On top of that, to give users an efficient navigation experience, you can arrange your external and internal links in a menu framework, with hyperlinked text, or by placing navigation buttons throughout the website.

 

 

What Makes A Good Website Navigation Menu?

 

Now that you know what exactly web navigation is, we can go over the different factors that make a website’s navigation menu great, namely:

 

Content That’s Clear And Easy to Understand

 

examples of good and bad website navigation

Your content should be straight to the point. (Credit: Skyview Smart Solutions)

 

Everything must be immediately clear and understandable. That suggests labels that are simple to understand and have a clear direction of where clicking them will lead the user.

 

Consistency of your design elements throughout the entire website is also important, as it will increase user comfort and make it quicker for them to understand as they navigate through the pages.

 

Just be sure that the labels and icons on the website’s navigation buttons match the pages they lead to exactly!

 

With that said, there are ways you can make yourself stand out from the competition, such as using innovative design concepts and distinctive text on your buttons. But, most of the time, having simple, understandable buttons is best practice.

 

More Information With Detailed Labels

 

detailed labels help user navigation

Detailed labels help your users have an easier time navigating through your website. (Credit: Acoor)

 

You can both provide users with more contextual information and improve the SEO of your website by using web page navigation bars for top-level navigation categories.

 

For instance, one of your key buttons on your website has the word “services” written on it and you sell software development services. Will the user be able to fully understand that label? Maybe not.

 

But what if you create a few distinct sections with names like “IT consulting services,” “AI/ML development,” and “Big Data analytics“? It’ll be simpler for everyone to find what they need, won’t it? And, thanks to the SEO benefit, you can even draw in more Google users.

 

Integrated User Objectives Into Navigation Design

 

Focusing your design on a target audience of users — which you can define by creating user personas — is one essential best practice for site navigation. It’s important to learn about the needs of your target audience, and try to tailor your navigation to meet those needs.

 

 

8 Best Practices For Better Website Navigation

 

Ready to improve your website navigation? Here are some of our best tips that you’ll want to apply to your site, stat:

 

1. Making use of navigational cues

 

navigational cues in Mailchimp

Navigational cues can also be seen as a map so users don’t get lost. (Credit: Mailchimp)

 

To put it simply, navigation cues aid users in determining where they are on a website. This helps users to avoid getting lost by using informative page titles, recognizable logos and branding, breadcrumbs, skillful visual design, etc.

 

By combining the elements we just mentioned, you can give your users a more enjoyable experience. You can also win their trust while preventing them from repeatedly clicking the “back” button on their browser or mobile app.

 

This makes it all the more important that you conduct prototyping and testing. You’ll have the chance to test different navigational options and fine-tune your website’s signup and purchase processes as well as the user experience as a whole by prototyping. Fortunately, this is easy to do with the best website builders out there.

 

2. Consistency is key

 

Hyer homepage

An example of a visually consistent website. (Credit: Hyer)

 

Make sure your site’s navigation is positioned consistently throughout each page. Visitors will become accustomed to and feel comfortable browsing if colors, designs, and fonts are used consistently.

 

Otherwise, users will be confused and more likely to search elsewhere wherein the layout is more clear.

 

3. Don’t overwhelm with too many links

 

Whether a user chooses to stay on your website or leave can depend on how many links are available to them at any given time. For instance, users might feel overwhelmed if the menu displays 20 links.

 

It’s usually best to provide clear navigation on the top menu and provide supplemental links on submenus that appear as the user scrolls down.

 

4. Utilize a search bar

 

search bar in Uniqlo website

Search bars are a great way for users to navigate around your website a lot easier. (Credit: Uniqlo)

 

Make sure to include a search option on your website as some users may prefer to use it instead of manually scrolling and looking for information.

 

The ideal location for it is at the very top of the sidebar or in the header area. But, know that even if it’ll be easy to find, it’ll be pointless if it doesn’t function as expected.

 

What we mean is that apart from producing accurate results, you’ll also want it to allow for typos, and display related goods and services.

 

Remember: a search engine that returns no results is bad for business!

 

5. Make a back-to-top button or a sticky navigation bar

 

scroll back to top button

As the name suggests, a scroll back-to-top button brings you back to the start of the page when clicked.

 

If you’re making a lengthy page, include a sticky navigation bar so that users can see it as they scroll down. A back-to-top button can also be added to make it easier for users to quickly return to the important information at the start.

 

The goal is to make the website easy for time-pressed online users to navigate and to make sure that all the pages are readily available.

 

6. Utilize colors effectively

 

Different color applications can enhance visual navigation cues and have a positive effect on usability. To draw attention to the navigation bar, use eye-catching colors and contrast to aid users in quickly identifying important elements.

 

With that said, make sure to visually set it apart from the rest of your content. For this, you may want to look up the basics of color theory.

 

7. Include calls to action

 

CTA button in Dropbox website

CTAs are a great way to let users know what to do after reading your website content.
(Credit: Dropbox)

 

CTAs are essential for guiding users to the desired destination. The right call to action can increase click-through rates and help you convert more leads into paying customers.

 

When making CTAs, keep in mind that the traditional “click here” button will not perform as well as precise and catchy phrases. You can also use these buttons to encourage potential customers to share your content online, subscribe to your newsletter, or even register for an upcoming event.

 

8. Make it simple to switch between pages

 

Users should be able to navigate freely between pages. So, in addition to including links to other pages on your website, it’s a good idea to make all pages reachable from the navigation bar.

 

You should also choose a navigational map that offers clear and understandable paths. This is so users can quickly and easily find what they’re looking for by using the navigation icons.

 

 

What NOT To Do With Your Navigation Menu

 

Now that you know how to make a great navigation bar, let’s go over some things you should avoid when designing one.

 

Don’t Hide Important Design Elements

 

In an effort to conserve space, some designers use techniques like hamburger menus to conceal navigation menus and make them accessible only when necessary. The issue with this is that some users won’t click on icons and learn about your navigation at all.

 

That’s why you should make sure the design elements for your primary page navigation are noticeable at a glance.

 

Unexpected Placement of Navigational Elements

 

You shouldn’t place your navigational elements on places that don’t fit. That’s why it’s important to take into account where it makes the most sense to place them on your webpage. Similar to hidden menus, some users might not even notice your menus and believe that this functionality isn’t there.

 

Having A Lot of Top-level Options

 

A lot of obvious navigation options on your homepage’s top level is usually not a good idea.

 

For your visitors, the total amount of effort should be kept to a minimum. That being said, a restricted amount of navigation options can be advantageous since your users won’t have to exert much physical and mental effort.

 

 

Maximize User Experience With A Reliable Web Host

 

Even today, many people are still shocked to learn how much your website’s web hosting matters. Web hosts can pretty much affect SEO all the way up to user experience. The following are some of the best web hosts you can use for your website:

 

  • Hostinger
    More and more, Hostinger is demonstrating that they are one of the best out there. They have developed into a company that offers premium support and performance at surprisingly reasonable prices. Even more, they have fantastic performance in terms of speed and uptime.
  • Kinsta
    Because it is hosted on Google Cloud’s Premium Tier, Kinsta has a number of key advantages. Not only does this grant you access to 29 data centers around the globe, but it also unlocks blazing-fast speeds and scalability. In other words, it’s perfect for giving your users a smooth browsing experience.
  • Bluehost
    If you’re looking to set up an e-commerce store or just small blogs for your website, Bluehost is a fantastic option. Not only will you be able to maximize user experience with their features, but they also come with a free domain and SEO services included in their Basic plan.

 

 

Make Your Website Better

 

Easy website navigation is essential for guiding a visitor through the conversion-driven buyer journey. Website owners should be aware of their objectives and design a navigation plan to support them.

 

If the menus are overly complicated, certain features are hard to find. Or, if words are used mistakenly, visitors will become confused and quickly leave your page. This will cost you all those valuable conversions.

 

But, you don’t have to worry. As long as you follow our guide, you’re as good as set for a better website!