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How To Design Navigation For Your Website?

By Author: John Ward
Total Articles: 34

When designing a website, many people focus more on its aesthetics – colors, images, fonts, etc. They often give less importance to navigation, one of the important elements of an effective website. Well-designed navigation not only enables visitors get the information easily but also helps search engine bots crawl through and index the webpages.

In this article, we will discuss designing user- and search engine-friendly navigation for your website.

Use simple and user-friendly terms for navigation menu

You may have great content on your website, but it is of no use if your visitors cannot access it easily. The navigation menu is the primary visual element of any website. An important aspect of a website’s navigation is the ease of using it. So, make sure that you keep it simple and clear with common terms that are easy to figure out.

Don’t assume that people already know your business/industry and include the industry jargon. Even an average (educated) individual should be able to understand your menu and should know where they will be directed when they click that link.

Use breadcrumbs to let visitors know where they are

Without knowing where exactly you are, you cannot reach your destination. Breadcrumbs play an important role in a website’s usability. A breadcrumb is a secondary navigation scheme that helps users know where they are exactly on the site. In other words, a breadcrumb shows the path the user has traversed (navigated) so far in a fixed order. Note however that breadcrumbs should not replace the primary navigation menus.

Standardize navigation menu

Make sure that the navigation menu is identical and consistent across all the pages of the website. Otherwise, there are chances your visitors may become confused and subsequently frustrated with your website.

Use a sitemap

A sitemap is simply a map that shows the structure of the website. The sitemap enables users to quickly find the information they are looking for on the website. There are two types of sitemaps – XML sitemap and HTML sitemap. XML sitemaps are used by search engines to identify and crawl important pages on a website. HTML sitemaps are user-readable and contain links to all the sections and important pages of the website.

Descriptive anchor text links

Anchor text is the visible, clickable text in the link of a webpage. Make sure that the anchor text is relevant to the landing page content. Some website designers try to stuff the targeted keywords in the anchor text assuming it will help them with rankings. Though this technique may have worked earlier, today it is considered spam to manipulate the search engine rankings.

When users land on your website, they often scan pages/link text to know what the page is about and where it takes them within the website. Therefore, it's important to provide descriptive links that are meaningful, easy to understand and have proper keywords that make sense for the user.

The text given/used for links should reflect the purpose of the page where the link redirects. Proper links will eventually enhance user interest to reach the destination on the website.

Put headings on top location for lengthy pages

Studies show that users focus more on the initial viewable area of a webpage and they avoid scrolling down to see the remaining content. Therefore, make sure to include all the important headings of sections on top of the lengthy pages.

Enable the back button on every webpage

According to Nielsen Norman Group, the ‘Back’ button is the lifeline of the web user and the second-most used navigation feature (after hypertext links). Still, many website designers ignore the ‘Back’ button while designing websites. Visitors on your website are more likely to explore your website if it has a ‘Back’ button. They will want to be able to click on any link on the webpage and can go back to the earlier page by clicking the ‘Back’ button.

Do not clutter the footer section with unnecessary links

Generally, links to the pages that are important for customer experience like FAQs, support, terms of service, privacy policy, etc. are placed in the footer. You can even include the main pages that you want your visitors to see in the footer. But you have to be very careful while doing this as you should always keep the user experience in mind – Don’t just clutter up the footer section with unnecessary links.

If visitors can find what they are looking for easily, they are more likely to stay on the site, and make transactions/deal with you. Otherwise, they will leave the website without doing any activity; this leads to high bounce rate and reduced search engine rankings.

Hope these points help you design an effective website navigation.

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