Before we dive into these common website navigation mistakes, let me explain what the word ‘navigation’ actually means. The term ‘navigation’ describes how a visitor is guided around your website. If your website navigation is good – ie it’s easy to work your way around and find what you’re looking for – you’ll enjoy bags of benefits: people staying on your site to read your content for longer means your conversion rates will increase and your search engine rankings will improve.
However, if visitors land on your website and your navigation is clumsy and complicated they will get in a fuddle and look for a much simpler option elsewhere (the technical term is ‘bounce’ – you can find out all about bounce rates from Google. This will impact on which Google page you’ll show up on and prevent potential ideal clients discovering the value of your services and products, and what it’s like to work with you.
So how do you make sure your website navigation doesn’t err on the side of clumsy and complicated? Well, you can start by avoiding these common website navigation mistakes.
#1 – Let’s Be Quirky and Put a Website Menu Bar in a Random Place
No, no, no. In this case, stick to standard. Don’t try to be different in an attempt to stand out from the crowd (there are plenty of other ways to do that). Just place your menu bar across the top of your website (horizontal) like mine… or down the side of your website (vertical). This ensures your menu navigation is clear and simple to use, means people will visit your website for longer and traditionally, it’s where they expect it to be.
#2 – It’s Good to Add Heaps of Dropdown Pages to My Menu, Right?
Please don’t clutter your menu with lots of unnecessary dropdown menus. Not only does it look awful and make it hard for your visitors to use (how many times have you tried to click on a dropdown menu before only to see it click elsewhere or take you to a different page – gah!!?) but Google and all the other big search engines (Yahoo & Bing) don’t take much notice of dropdown pages. It can also make your side a bit ‘click’ my term for making your customer click too many times!
#3 – Giving Visitors Lots of Options is More Valuable, Isn’t It?
Afraid not. If you’re an indecisive soul (and who isn’t, let’s face it?) and you’re trying to choose between 2 and 10 options, your impatience might get the better of you. Give your visitors less choice (they can always contact you if they need to find our more information) and they’ll reach their decision much quicker. Don’t squish everything into your primary menu bar… less is definitely more on this occasion.
Just remember Keep it Simple!… Make it Significant
Finally, when you’re planning your website navigation, always bear in mind:
- your user experience (if you struggle with this, put yourself in your visitor’s shoes and plot their different journeys on a piece of paper)
- how your search engine rankings will be affected (minimise your dropdowns, remember)
- how many clicks it takes your visitors to reach their destination (less options equals quicker decisions)
If you have the opportunity to plan your navigation before your website is designed, then that’s always a bonus. But if you need to tweak your website to fix these common navigation mistakes once and for all, it isn’t a huge job either. You know where I am if you need my help.
Can you think of any other navigation mistakes you might have made in the past? How did you fix them? What kind of results did you see afterwards? I’d love to know.
Is your website in need of a little tic? if you’re making excuses for your website then it’s time to shake things up with a website revamp that adds a little more va va voom!
By time I’m done your website will have a sparkly new look and you’ll be super proud to be stepping out together again.