The Unseen Impact of Website Navigation
Posted 08 May 2013
Have you ever met somebody who seems to go completely unnoticed until they’re not there?
Maybe you’re that person; working hard for 48 weeks a year, seemingly almost completely under the radar. It’s not until you’re on holiday or at a training day that everybody realises how important your contribution is and how much they need and miss you!
The same principle is true when we’re evaluating what’s important in website design. There is one key web design component that can go almost completely unnoticed: website navigation.
When we talk about web design we often dwell on the visual, aesthetic elements of a site. We think about how it looks and the first impression that it makes. We’re interested in colour, branding, photography and video.
However, the sad reality is that many websites look great – seemingly excellent examples of web design – but are let down by poor website navigation. Whilst the design of individual web pages is clearly of the highest importance, it’s just as important that your website is easy for visitors to find their way around.
It’s easy enough to spot when this isn’t happening. Unhelpful website navigation design often results in high bounce rates and a disappointingly low percentage of returning visitors.
It might sound simple, but if a site visitor isn’t able to find what they’re looking for then they’re going to leave. Website navigation should be effortless. If you want to transfer more site visits into conversions, then you’re going to need to think hard about improving your website navigation.
There are various ways to do this.
A great starting point is to adopt current best-practice and adapt it to suit your needs. This currently means using simple menus (either horizontally across the top of your site or vertically down one side) which are clearly and intuitively labelled. If your menus aren’t clear, then you’re only going to confuse site visitors.
In web design terms, this means keeping the website fast, clean and easy-to-read with helpfully chosen font families and appropriately sized text. Intuition is the name of the game – the website design should be accessible to children and pensioners.
You might also push the boat out. If you’re a forward-thinking, innovative company then you may want to find an alternative way to present your web design. Whether or not this is successful will ultimately depend upon how you structure your navigation.
This might take the form of a single-page website, which encourages the reader to keep scrolling down the page. Essentially this presents the whole site in linear form, helping develop a sense of flow and narrative as you tell your story through words and visuals. This will help you sift out pages that don’t need to be there. It also makes the ‘call to action’ much easier to communicate, whether it’s “follow us on Facebook”, “contact us today for a free quote” or “register for our next open evening”.
Web designers are finding various new ways to produce visually-stunning, intuitive website design, with image-based sites, hidden menus and infographic-style designs. There is also a growth in mobile-first responsive web design, which involves designing primarily for a mobile audience and then upscaling for desktop users. The intuitive, simple scrolling that mobile sites require is very conducive for effective, easy-navigation web design.
Ultimately, even though you might never have noticed it, your website navigation will help determine the success of your website design. To find out more about website navigation and our web design services, why not contact us today to see how we can help…