There is no Google Maps for navigating website design elements. Anyone who has ever visited a new town and found themselves completely turned around while struggling to drive unfamiliar streets will invariably leave that municipality with the distinct impression that the effort was hardly worth all the work.
That exact same formula applies when someone visits your website if the navigational components of the site are too confusing to effectively navigate. As such, it’s important that any web design consideration includes navigational features that are easy to find; elements that stress user friendliness and provides relevant content for your online visitors.
Once on your page, visitors should find it easy to locate the needed navigational links without the need to search over hill and over dale to discover the information they are seeking. After all, you’re hosting a website not an Easter egg hunt, so make sure that the items you want to showcase, such as your Contact Page, are easy to find. Ideally, you will locate your navigational bar across the top of the web design template so that readers won’t need to stage an archeological dig in order to find their way to the next page of your website.
To achieve this effect, make sure that your navigation bar stands out from the remainder of the content on the page and is similarly located on each level of your website. Online readers are notoriously short on patience, and their ability to click away from a site is as simple as it was to get there in the first place. To ensure that you don’t drive your readership away, make your navigational bars and web design accessible and consistent. You should always maintain the same location, style, font, color, and type of navigation bar to assist them in locating the next place to go for information on your site.
To further assist in your reader’s movement about your site, it’s important to make the website design easy to use. This means that section titles should be obviously named and readily understandable. To enable visitors to easily move about your site means eschewing general terminology like “resources,” “tools” and “biography” in favor of obvious destinations like “news,” “podcasts,” or “about us.”
Additionally, overloading your navigation bar with too many buttons, bells, and whistles provides too many available options that may frustrate your online visitor.
Remember that less is more. Don’t overload either your navigational bar or your reader’s ability to absorb all the information and details.
Easy-To-Remember Why Visitors Are At Your Site
Each page that is clicked on should further the informational pool that is available to your reader while constantly reminding them of where they are and why they’re there. Using a consistent format to highlight a section will go a long way towards reinforcing your readers satisfaction with your navigational aids.
Internet users are notorious for low attention spans. If you’re searching for a particular news article and the page takes more than .35 seconds to load, how often do you find yourself looking for another site? The same goes if you are shopping for a certain piece of apparel. If you don’t find what you’re looking for on the first page of products, how likely are you to ditch that clothing site for another? That same philosophy applies to ANY website, whether it’s a business or personal blog.
The average time a person stays on a web page is less than one minute, most typically between 10 and 20 seconds. In addition, the average visitor only skims a page, usually reading just a quarter of the text in that time. Those are some scary stats, so you better make those 10 to 20 seconds count by making your website attractive and well-written, yet uncomplicated.
Is Your Website User-Friendly And Easy To Navigate?
Now that you understand how imperative it is for your website to be simple to navigate and easy to use, take a look at your own website and analyze it. If you want a website that acts as a digital salesperson, contact us at ROI Online.
Whether you’re interested in minor improvements or a complete website revamp, we offer free website marketing evaluations. We’d be happy to brainstorm with you!
Editor's note: This blog was originally published in 2013. It's been updated for accuracy and freshness.