If there's one thing that modern website visitors want, that is streamlined experiences.
In the hectic environment established by the COVID-19 pandemic, people crave online experiences that are accessible, fast, and simple.
That's why, now more than ever, making website navigation easy and intuitive is imperative to meet your audience's needs. And be careful; just because your website looks good doesn't mean it's easy to navigate.
In this article, we'll see why it's essential to put yourself in your visitors' shoes when crafting your web navigation, and we'll explore some best practices for making your website easier to navigate.
Best Practice #1: Understand How Users Interact with Different Devices
With most people going online through mobile devices, it's essential to look at your website through their lens to create relevant website experiences for them. It's in human nature to look for patterns and seek comfort, so make sure that your menu is easy to find and your pages simple to navigate.
The switch from desktops to mobile devices has caused many websites to build less obvious navigation menus. While the "hamburger menu" is a convenient solution from the point of view of design and it best suits desktop users, it can make navigation menus harder to find for mobile users. That's why a lot of websites still opt for sidebars, a drop-down menu, or tab bars to make sure they don't compromise on website navigation.
Best Practice #2: Build a Clear, Legible Website Navigation
At this point, you want to avoid:
- Narrow fonts
- Tight scripts
- Unclear titles and text
There's nothing more frustrating than getting lost on a website because navigation titles are confusing or vague. Most visitors will not want to come back to this. Your primary focus here should be to deliver easy-to-understand navigation, text instead of icons for menu items, and clear categories for each page.
The design of your page can also contribute to your website navigation being legible. For example, use clear contrast in your navigation menu and try to avoid dark-on-dark or light-on-light combinations.
Best Practice #3: Don't Forget About Search Functionality
Search functionality is excellent for users that expect specific guidance on a website rather than clicking through links. They will leave your site happy and eager to come back later.
By improving your search functionality, you provide a safety net for making your site navigation easy—there's no going wrong with it as it fully supports the user experience. Investing in your search functionality can also improve your conversion rate, yet many sites still neglect it.
To help your visitors spot the search bar more quickly, you can put the text inside a box and offset it in a different color from your site's color scheme. Another important aspect is the functionality of your search results page. For example, work on making product searches filterable and adjust your search bar to filter out unwanted categories.
It may seem like a lot of work for a search bar tool, but if your want your website to be easy to navigate, search functionality is a must.
Best Practice #4: Build a Website Map
Sitemaps are like a directory of your website.
Besides paving the way for streamlined site navigation, sitemaps are also essential for SEO. So, if you want to kill two birds with one stone, build your website map–you'll give your users more navigation options and improve your SEO functionality.
You can choose from HTML sitemaps, which provide links to the essential pages of your website, or XML sitemaps, which help a search engine navigate your website. You can also choose both options, combine them to suit your website needs, and provide a streamlined navigation experience.
Keeping Up with the Modern Digital User
There's no doubt about it: online users expect top-notch digital experiences and choose websites that can keep up with these expectations.
Taking the time to invest in improving your site navigation is the first step in your quest to keep up with digital trends.
At Optasy, we know how vital it is to stay relevant in the online environment with websites that provide future-oriented designs and a personalized user experience. We can help you improve your digital posture and take your web development projects to the next level.
Photo credit: Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash.
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