It is common knowledge based on a variety of research conducted that the attention span of the average website visitor is only a couple of seconds (generally under 30 seconds). This means that website visitors expect to be able to quickly find the information they are looking for otherwise they will drop out (known as a bounce). A lost website visitor could have been a customer and is a missed opportunity of a sale.
Intuitive and user friendly navigation is absolutely essential in ensuring that a website visitor is able to find what they are looking for with ease – giving them a smooth transition between pages and content. When ‘navigation’ is mentioned a majority would think of just the menu in the header of a website, but navigation comprises of a visitors entire journey between pages and content on a website. A website navigation that is carefully planned can result a significantly improved user experience (UX) and a potential increase in conversions too.
Discussed below are some best practices and things to consider when planning your business website navigation:
- Intuitive Categorisation & Menu Items: If it takes too long for a website user to find something then they are less likely to keep looking for it. Hence it is important to ensure that your navigation comprises of carefully organised categories and labels that will make finding particular content on the website a breeze.
- Responsive navigation: Although it’s not an absolute necessity to use the 3 lined menu for mobile devices (aka. ‘hamburger menu’), it is vital to ensure that the navigation menu is responsive to the device screen nonetheless.
- Use sticky navigation: In some cases especially on pages with a lot of content (or one page websites) – including a sticky navigation that does not scroll (or remains fixed to the top) can be useful. This is especially true if the user has to scroll through a lot of content and hence will make it more user friendly to access a page instead of having to scroll back to the top.
- Hide search bar/feature: Navigation real-estate is very limited on a website, so it makes sense to have the search field as a toggle feature, so have just an icon which will reveal the search bar once clicked. This way you can use minimal space to display search options – which then reveals itself when required.
- Your content can decide on the menu type: Having a minimal navigation menu is the ideal scenario; however this may not always be possible. Generally your navigation menu is determined by the amount of content you wish to have. The more pages, the more complex your navigation. Bigger websites for instance may have a vertical collapsible menu that can be pulled from the side when needed.
- Use standard icon styles: making use of standards that people are familiar with can also make it easier for them to navigate through a website. For instance making use of a magnifying glass to imply search or the 3 lines (hamburger icon) to denote menu is the best way to go. Custom icons in order to be a little different may not always play to your advantage.