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November 11, 2016

6 Usability Tips to Improve the Navigation of Your Website

When you visit websites you expect to have an easy time navigating the website and the ability to access all the information you want conveniently, without any hiccups. Unfortunately, there are some websites that fall short of that desire and end up confusing you or making you work to find information. Moving from one page to another should be effortless, not discouraging.

When it comes to your website, remember, the more user-friendly it is, the more traffic it will maintain because you will reduce bounce rates. However, if navigating your website is full of complications or it confuses visitors, it will turn users off and that translates into diminished site traffic. Here are some simple usability tips to incorporate into your website design to ensure your site is easy to navigate.

Create a clear and logical structure

Your website’s structure should be very clear and logical. Visitors should be able to easily pick out what they want from the items that have been presented on the website. The navigation menu should incorporate your site’s different categories and subcategories. Subcategories should be listed in a way that it is easy for visitors to quickly get to what they want with a minimum number of clicks. This orients visitors to what they should expect right from the very beginning without having to go through various parts of the site searching for what they are looking for, utilizing the trial and error method. Everything should be organized well in an orderly manner. This is especially important for the websites that offer an extensive number of products and services.

Keep it simple

Simplicity is crucial. Remember, your website is not meant for you, it is meant for the visitors. While you are most likely very familiar with your company and products, you need to make sure the design your website accommodates visitors with no knowledge of your company. Keep it is as simple as possible. If you complicate the site or try to use clever jargon, it becomes difficult for site visitors, making it difficult for them to locate necessary items and information. Make sure your site is precise and organized so it is easy for the user to locate anything he or she might be in need of.

Be clear

After site’s structure has been defined in a logical way, the wording you use plays an important role in the user experience of your navigation menu. While you may have a logical organization and have put everything in the right spot, if your navigational terms are something different than expected, visitors may still have a difficult time navigating your site.

You want to use navigational terms that your sites visitors will be familiar with. You should ask your site visitors if your terminology for your navigation menu is in line with what they expect. Avoid using creative, off-the-wall terms just for the sake of being clever. This will do nothing more than push visitors away from your site. Make sure you choose words that are simple and to the point.

To improve clarity consider adding visuals or add some descriptive text to help visitors find their way. As much as possible, you will want to pick terms people are familiar with.

Keep it consistent

Consistency is crucial so a visitor knows what to expect from your site. If you remain consistent with a design, it is very easy for the users to navigate the site. The design that you use on the first page should be reflected in all the following pages so the user can get used to it and be able to follow along throughout your entire website. If you keep changing the design after every page, that appears unorganized and can discourage your visitors. Visitors will easily lose interest and give up on your site. Consistency will help make your site as user friendly as possible.

Make it predictable

Creative visual design of a website is important but there are some areas where predictability is required. Don’t let your desire to be creative get in the way of a good user experience. It is wise not to be overly creative where common principles should be applied because that is what visitors will be expecting. This applies to navigation menus so that visitors will be able to easily navigate from one page to another. If you surprise visitors with something totally different than the normal style of navigation that people are used to using on other sites, it can be confusing and frustrating for them.

Communicate location

Make sure visitors to your website are informed about their location. You want them to know where they are on your website and where they are heading to regardless of what page they are on or what page they entered your site from. Remember that visitors do not always arrive at your site through the home page. To do this, include breadcrumbs so that site visitors can easily track their movements and easily traverse your website. Visitors will not get lost as they continue navigating because they will always be able keep track of what is behind them, where they are currently and also where they are going. This will help your visitors feel at ease and in control when they are navigating.

Navigation should be simple, no matter what page the user is on. Even if he uses a shortcut to reach where he is, the visitor should still be able to understand his location if your navigation is well structured.

Final thoughts

If you design a website that observes all of the above mentioned features, it will help improve the usability of your site. It will be more efficient for site visitors, retain more traffic and improve the sales and the interaction that you will want it to create. Remember, design with your visitors in mind, using these tips to help you ensure your site is easy to navigate.


Kimber Johnson is the co-founder of ASPEN App Design, which is a sister company of Pacific App Design and Vanity Mobile Apps. He has worked within the web development, graphics design, mobile application development, marketing and advertising fields for more than 17 years.