One of the most important website elements is navigation. Not only does the website navigation tell us what your site contains, it helps us (the user) find what we’re looking for. Creating clear navigational structure is essential to ensuring the positive user experience people expect when they visit a website.

website navigation

Users have a wealth of information at their fingertips and it’s important to remember the competition is always just a click away. So if your website navigation is confusing or disorganized, it’s likely the user will become frustrated and quickly leave your  site.

So what can you do to ensure your website navigation is clear and intuitive to your users?

1. Navigation placement: Be consistent. By putting navigation in a standard place on every page of the site, it makes the site easier to use and understand. Additionally, the navigation’s design, typeface and color selection should remain standardized.

website navigation

2. Number of sections in your top-level navigation: Avoid overwhelming the user with a robust navigation menu. A best practice for professional services websites is to limit items in top-level navigation to seven. Research shows a user’s short-term memory only holds seven items, so by having more than seven navigation items you run the risk of confusing the user.

3. Navigation titles:  It should be clear what information lives behind each section of a navigation bar. Try to keep page navigation titles between 1-2 words.

For example, instead of using the term “Engage Us” to notate a section where you provide your contact information, simply label this section “Contact.” It makes more sense to the user and it’s more direct.

4. Search boxes within the site: Nothing is more frustrating than not being able to find what you’re looking for on a website. That’s why it’s important to include a search box at the top of every page of your website. Usability best practices recommend the upper right corner.

Website navigation can make a huge difference in your user experience. Does your website navigation follow these practices?

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