How to create proper and usable navigation on your website

When it comes to usability, ease-of- navigating on your website should be a top priority for web designers. The number one most annoying feature of a website is improper or confusing navigation. So, what makes website navigation easy and usable? This simple guideline will ensure that your site navigation is usable and user-friendly.

1.  Embrace Predictability

Being creative with your website is nice, but don’t practice this in areas where predictability may be preferred over uniqueness. This is particularly true for website navigation menus that visitors are going to use simply to get from one page to another. Creating unconventional navigation will only make it confusing and confused users are less likely to stay on your page any longer.

2.  Keep it simple

In a way, this goes hand-in-hand with predictability, except here you avoid making your navigation extremely difficult to comprehend. For example, you may have a predictable design, but if it is full of cluttered menus and submenus in a disorganized fashion, you’re far from making it easy for users to navigate through your website.

3.  Don’t overdo Minimalism

Recently minimalism has caught on and everyone seems to be reducing content, promoting “white space” and simplifying typography. This is great because nowadays internet users are more concerned about getting work done as fast as possible through mobile devices on-the-go, rather than viewing fancy pages that may take forever to download. However, some designers over-do minimalism, rendering clear and proper navigation useless. This is a big mistake! If used properly, good navigation can only help your visitors, find what they are looking for!

4.  Keep it Consistent

It’s always good to keep the theme and structure of your pages consistent. The first time a user visits your website, he/she is going to make sense of it in just a matter of seconds. After that, your user is going to expect all the pages to be similar in terms of structure and design.

5.  Clear Hierarchical structure

Navigation menu should have a clear hierarchical structure with every category and clickable sub categories included in the menu. It’s okay if your parent categories are extensive, so long as all the available subcategories are listed in an order. This gives the user a clear idea of what you can offer without having to go through several pages to find what they are looking for. Check this navigation of AliExpress:

6.  Make it Manageable

Clear navigation in your user interface is highly usable when it tells visitors where they came from; where they are currently, and where they can go from their current location. This obviously requires a breadcrumb trail on your website, allowing users to keep track of their location, making navigation more manageable and under their control. Remember that not all users will start visiting your site from the home page. Many will land on an inner page after clicking a link from another site or from the Search Engine Results Page.

7.  Link the Logo to the Homepage

This might seem obvious, however it’s not uncommon to find sites that fail to implement this function.
The common convention for logo placement is the top left hand corner or centered along the top and the logo is also known as a link back to the homepage. This is a convention that is best followed as it is so widely implemented.

8.  Provide more than one Navigation Menu

It’s not uncommon to provide the user with more than one navigation menu or option. This is to ensure that the users are easily able to navigate through the website from anywhere in case they have missed a certain navigation type.

For example, you can provide a drop-down or fly-out menu on the side along with a footer global navigation option at the bottom of every webpage.

9.  Always Include a Search Bar

Search bars are extremely necessary for making your website’s search interface more usable. This is another way to navigate through your website without having to go through navigation menus and other options. Today’s internet users are prone to search bars/boxes to find the information they are looking for—and find it fast! Large websites that have surplus content are incomplete without search bars which would save user a lot of time. Also, the search option should search your complete website based on keywords instead of leading users to someone else’s website.

Examples

https://www.ebay.com/

The major features of eBay and how to use them

The breadth and depth of eBay’s website can seem daunting to users who have recently joined eBay, but eBay’s website is not difficult to navigate once you consider its basic functions. At the simplest level, eBay is composed of eight basic website areas. Click on the links below to read more about them:

  • The front page or feed at ​eBay.com.
  • Lists of the categories in which sale items can be found.
  • Search or browse results that list items for sale within a category or based on your keyword searches.
  • Individual item listings giving price, description, and (usually) a photo of the item.
  • Selling tools used to list your own items for sale.
  • My eBay, the page used to manage your own account, purchases, and items for sale.
  • eBay Help, where you’ll find instructions, rules, policies, and answers to common questions.
  • eBay Community, where you can interact with other eBay users.

Site Features

Though you should understand the basics of eBay’s front page and of your own “My eBay” page, you don’t need to master every area of the website to use eBay effectively. For example, if you only wish to buy on eBay and have no intention to sell, you need only learn about those areas of the site used to buy items. Similarly, many members have used eBay successfully for years without ever having accessed either the Help or Community portions of the site.

https://www.amazon.com/

Amazon overcomes the challenge that its enormous catalog of products represents with an extensive set of flyout navigation elements that slide down when the user mouses over the “Shop by Department” label in the header. In the image above, the left side depicts Amazon’s “Home, Garden & Tools” navigational grouping as customers are intended to see it. On the right side is the flyout navigation for the same navigational grouping as search engines crawlers read it — with JavaScript, CSS, cookies and images disabled.

Amazon uses flyout navigation to elegantly allow deeper access to its 150-plus departments of content. Without the initial 16 navigational groupings that drop down from the “Shop by Department” label in the header, Amazon would have to either cram all 150 departments into a single level of navigation, or choose which departments to leave out of the site-wide navigation. The former would be a horrifying customer experience and the latter would reduce Amazon’s ability to rank for those departments left out of the site-wide navigation. SEO-friendly flyout navigation is the perfect solution to the dilemma.

Conclusion

A clear and comprehensible  navigation system is a key component to providing online visitors with a usable web-interface, one that keeps them engaged until they’ve achieved their purpose and we’ve increased conversion rates rather than bounce rates.              

[The original article was written in English. To other languages it was automatically translated by Google Translate]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *