The Importance of Good Website Navigation

December 10th, 2014

You’d never go on a hike without a compass or a map. No one has to tell you that you’d be in serious trouble if you walked for hours in dense woods or mountainous terrain without knowing where you were or where you were going.

When it comes to websites, the navigation system acts like a road map to all the different areas and information contained within the website. If it’s clear, easy to follow and understand, visitors will stay and have a good experience, which ultimately leads to more business for you. We’re going to clarify exactly what considerations we employ to ensure your site’s navigation helps exceed your company objectives. At the same time we’ll show you some stellar examples of these essential elements coming into play.


What makes good website navigation?

First off, do keep in mind there is no one-size-fits-all strategy. Although, three factors should always be considered;

  • your business
  • your goals
  • your audience

These elements will all affect your strategy, which is basically how you are going to get people to engage with you. A great example of this is social media. If your target audience is seniors, it’s highly unlikely likely that Twitter and Instagram are the best ways to engage with them.

Ask yourself: “What experience do you want the user to have?” Then use this information to shape and guide your navigation. In other words, not being rigid with conventions is vital to bear in mind. As a general rule, simple is best. For example, less clutter in terms of menu structures, calls to action and design allows anyone to find their way around speedily and effortlessly. Consistency is another crucial point. Consistency in navigation is about a consistent user experience throughout the site – if it doesn’t change too much, the user can always find their way around, or back to where they’ve already been if they wish. Your viewer will feel comfortable and calm as opposed to overwhelmed and irritated.

Hillside Veterinary Clinic is a great example of these factors working together. If your beloved pet isn’t well, the last thing you want is to have to hunt around the site to find the help you need. The clear, logical layout speeds up the viewer’s search – with the added bonus that they will likely return to the site because it’s such a pleasure to use.

Conversion Point

Your page’s ultimate goal is a conversion. In other words, converting visitors/leads into customers. Success hinges on conversion. The prospect must be able to convert quickly into a visitor, and the visitor must be able to convert quickly into a lead, an applicant, a customer, a donor, or a subscriber. The odds of converting a visitor into a legitimate prospect or customer go up significantly when that visitor arrives at a website that is “conversion ready,” which means that behaviour up to the point of arrival strongly indicates a propensity to convert. When and how conversion occurs varies from one organization to another. A conversion point is reached via calls to action and the menu structure.

Call to Action

A call to action is a line of text that prompts your visitors, leads, and customers to take action. It is, quite literally, a “call” to take an “action.” Examples include: buy now, download file, get a coupon, register for an event, sign up for newsletter, hear a sample, get a quote, etc. A good call to action will create a sense of urgency (“offer ends tomorrow”) and therefore entice people to actually take an action from your content. Having calls to action throughout a site will enable users to be led clearly and directly to registration or purchase pages.

Menu Structure

The menu structure guides people to what they want to find and what you want them to find. Menus are typically found along the top or the left-hand side of a page, with the logo at the top left and secondary components where it makes sense for the individual design. This is not a rigid web convention but rather a guideline.

The F pattern is a proven, dominant web copy reading pattern that roughly resembles the letter F. Studies have found that users’ main reading behaviour was fairly consistent across many different sites. The pattern has the following three components:

  • Users first read in a horizontal movement, usually across the upper part of the content area. This initial element forms the F’s top bar.
  • Next, users move down the page a bit and then read across in a second horizontal movement that typically covers a shorter area than the previous movement. This additional element forms the F’s lower bar.
  • Finally, users scan the content’s left side in a vertical movement. This last element forms the F’s stem.

A superb example of where the navigation lends itself well to the content is The Briars. In order to accommodate all of the various services they offer, a more complex menu structure is beneficial for different types of visitors. This adaptive site balances a top menu for browsing along with boxes which link quickly to specific services. In other words, viewers can find their way to a specific service directly or enjoy exploring the different R & R options that are available to them.

“Use clear and stimulating yet brief language – make each word fight for its right to be on the page. Remember the “need for speed” and try to minimize links & distractions.”

Site Content

Writing for the web is different from writing for other means. Ensure that the keywords (the phrases and specific terms that a target audience is likely to use when searching for a product or service) appear in text copy on your site. Also, use several headings and sub-headings throughout each page because users typically scan a page for information as opposed to reading it word for word like a book. Use clear and stimulating yet brief language- make each word fight for its right to be on the page. Therefore, remember the “need for speed” and try to minimize links & distractions.

The 3-Second Rule

Three seconds is the average time a visitor will give your page to learn what it’s about and what they’re expected to do. Fail this test, and your visitor will leave. Here are some tips to keep their attention;

  • use white space, bold text and bullet points to help visitors scan to get a sense of what the page about and decide if it’s something they’d be interested in reading,
  • use compelling images and photos that back up the content,
  • use well designed graphics to make the look professional.

MeCreo 3D blends technical terms with a fun, creative flair. The content engages the readers’ imagination while still representing the company as trusted experts in their field. The result is a site which screams both innovation and technology along with ingenious uniqueness.

Remember, your page’s ultimate goal is a conversion. With this in mind, your marketing efforts may result in beautifully crafted pages and creative copy, but if most of your visitors are leaving without converting and you don’t know why, or worse, you don’t even know it, you’re navigating your marketing world at your own peril.