Website Design: Best Practices in Planning Navigation on a Site

Mar 13, 2017

You’re a professional who knows your business. Your website is filled with insightful and well-composed content that both engages and informs potential and current clients. However, if that information is not organized across the website in an easily accessible manner, all that effort to develop your content is of little value. Getting the content in the hands of those who need it is as important as the content itself. Website design that uses quick and logical navigation will make a world of difference in improving a website’s functionality. These best practices in navigation planning can help create a convenient and usable website.

Use Descriptive Links

Avoid generic terms like products or services as navigation buttons. While these might make logical sense as a way to organize the business, they don’t offer enough description for the casual site visitor. If a potential customer has to click around to find what they need on your site, there’s a decent chance they’ll go elsewhere. Just as important, generic titles don’t incorporate principles of search engine optimization into the website design. Descriptive labels that include keywords drive traffic to your site and can improve rankings.

Avoid Dropdowns With Multiple Branches

While dropdown menus are common in website designs today, there are good reasons not to incorporate them. For one, dropdown menus on pages designed for desktops can be cumbersome and even unwieldy on mobile devices. Unless your site is optimized for mobile devices, dropdowns will alienate a significant number of visitors. Multiple branches, where rolling over a link in the dropdown sprouting yet more dropdown lists, are also awkward to navigate. Users who aren’t nimble with the mouse may roll off the second menu and lose their place, creating frustration.

Perfection Comes in Increments

In the website design business, it’s often better to be evolutionary than revolutionary. Rather than trying to reinvent the wheel, website designers should realize that the best-designed sites are the result of a consultative process. After a site has been published, check in periodically on the analytics to fine-tune the navigation. Remove links that aren’t generating any clicks or, if they’re critical, try renaming or rearranging them. If an item on a list is popular, it should be placed near the top while unpopular items should be lower down. Over time, these refinements will significantly improve a website’s navigability.

No matter what the industry, the internet is an essential business tool. Get the most out of your website by utilizing these navigation tips.