Navigation is at the core of every website. Visitors click links that lead them to new pages with more links. A site’s universal navigation is the doorway to its most important content.
Page names actually drive quite a bit of traffic to your website from search engines. A User Interface Engineering study found that over 50 percent of search traffic on a major commerce site was generated from the department, gallery and product pages deep inside the site.
Having a dysfunctional website navigation is like driving around without street signs. If you don’t know where to go, you won’t find what you’re looking for. If visitors have a tough time navigating your website, they won’t want to return and you can actually drive away business.
A recurring inability to find information, products or services is one of the biggest challenges any website faces. Every web designer has to understand a user’s goal and what they need to accomplish when they visit the site. Here are some compelling statistics about how poor website navigation affects users and sales.
Research by User Interface Engineering, Inc., shows that people cannot find the information they seek on a Web site about 60 percent of the time.
Studies by Forrester Research estimate that approximately 50 percent of potential sales are lost because users can’t find information and that 40 percent of users do not return to a site when their first visit is a negative experience.
A study by Zona Research found that 62 percent of Web shoppers give up looking for the item they want to buy online.
If visitors can’t find information on your website, it doesn’t exist. Below are some practical tips to improving a website’s navigation.
Review Navigation Menu Wording
Phrasing in navigation menus must be deliberate. Don’t focus on fancy wording. Describe the page or content as boring and straightforward as possible. Make it obvious to the visitor what they’re getting when they click a link. Don’t use jargon on a navigation menu. Stay on the safe side and assume your visitor knows nothing about your industry.
Review Analytics for Clues
Your site’s analytics will point out things that need improvement. If important pages aren’t being viewed, something might be wrong. The page could be mislabeled or poorly described and be confusing visitors. If a lot of your visitors reach your website and are quickly clicking on multiple different links without landing on a page, they probably couldn’t find what they needed.
Incorporate Drop Down Menus
Drop down menus help users explore all your site has to offer quickly without having to click on anything. Most designers prefer vertical drop down menus because they usually won’t cover page content.
This tip is essential for online stores. Allow visitors to sort items by price, color, brand, available sizes and top sellers. Give them the option to narrow what they see by giving subcategories within broad topics.
Include an Internal Site Search
If a visitor can’t find what they’re looking for in your menu, give them a last option. Often, this will prevent them from leaving and trying a competitor's site.
Identify Frequently Searched Terms
If your visitors are regularly searching within your site for something specific, that topic should have its own page and link in the navigation menu.
Usability and functionality are just a few of the many factors of website design. If you take away one thing from this blog, don’t overlook your website’s navigation. If it’s not easy to use, you’re losing business. If you’re having this problem with your website, contact us at 972-478-7127 for more information on how a professional web design can benefit your business.