Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Getting Around: Creating an Intuitive, Meaningful Navigation Structure

Want to know how to make visitors crazy and drive them away from your blog? Make your navigation confusing! We’ve all landed on a website only to be greeted by some weird navigation structure that not only doesn’t tell us what is available, but doesn’t let us return to the page we were on easily. Want some advice? Don’t do this to your readers!!!

Your navigation sets the pace for how visitors move through your site. And this is another important piece of your blog makeover puzzle. In fact, this element may be even more important than your header design.
You want to keep it as simple as possible so that it's user friendly and easy to understand. The worst thing is a busy navigation bar that leaves readers feeling confused and unsure of where to go. A confused reader doesn't end up doing anything but clicking away from your site, never to return. With that in mind, here are some navigation tips you should know about:

  • Make sure your header is linked to the homepage.
  • Keep it consistent across every page of your website – don’t move your navigation to another location or change the tabs from page to page.
  • Properly name each tab on the navigation bar so people know exactly where they’ll go if they click on it.
  • Keep it simple - in the case of the navigation bar, less is more. You don't want to give your readers too many options.
  • Easy to find - your site visitors should be able to find what they're looking for within a few seconds of being on your site.

Another thing to consider is whether you'll use a single layer navigation bar or a drop down one. The drop down option may seem like a good idea because you can combine things into one tab and have them show up when someone hovers. For example: your main navigation tab 'about' can drop down and give a visitor the option to 'contact' you. However, if you can avoid a drop down navigation bar, then don't use it. It’s far better to have all the important pages visible than to hide them below something else. Remember, simple is almost always better.
One last thing to keep in mind when setting up the navigation of your site: make sure that your readers always know where they are on your blog. Do this by making a ‘Home’ link in your navigation, or by using ‘breadcrumbs’ to give the reader a way to backtrack.  

Once you have the navigation menu set up, ask someone to test it for you. Have them spend a few minutes on your blog to see if it's easy to navigate. You built it, so you may find that you simply don’t notice things that are out of place or not clear. Sometimes a fresh pair of eyes can see things you didn't.

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