There are multiple aspects that web design can foster for a great user experience. However, if you overlook these features, you can ruin your users’ experience. From the visual aesthetic of the website, to the use of text and functionality, such as website navigation, a good website needs a balance between visual concepts and a responsive website.
One of the main elements to think about that can make or break a website’s UX Design, is website navigation. An easily-navigable website will help users find the content they’re looking for, and offer them a positive experience that will encourage them to return.
Let’s look at why website navigation is important, and how you can provide users with a flawless user experience. Here, we dive into the basics, plus tips on how to design your site.
What is website navigation and why is it important?
Imagine the scene: You’ve been wanting a new bag for a while. Finally, you sit down, browse different designer’s eCommerce sites and pick your favourite. After deliberating, you’ve found the perfect bag and want to make your purchase. But once you’re ready to pay—you can’t locate the “checkout” button.
After all that browsing, completing your purchase seems far too complicated. So eventually, you give up in favour of another brand.
Web design Belfast navigation refers to what facilitates this user journey, and is impacted by the architecture of your site: the organisation of links, menus and the connection between different pages on your website all play a role in navigating.
Good web design Belfast navigation practices would avoid a scenario like the one above for your own brand. It impacts traffic, conversion, bounce rates—and is a determining factor in the user experience of your design.
Types of web design navigation menus
The heart of navigation lies in your website’s menu. A website menu is a series of linked items that help users navigate between the different pages or sections of the site.
There are several standard types of website navigation menus that are recognised throughout the online world. We’ve outlined these below, including visual examples from website templates. Depending on your design, any of these, when implemented with our best practices in mind, will help users find their way around your website with ease.
This is a classic menu that usually appears at the header of your website. Running horizontally across the screen, a horizontal navigation menu will list the pages available on your site.
Because it’s a standard in web design, this type of menu is intuitive to use, and easy for visitors to find.
While we do recommend limiting your menu items, if a website contains a lot of content, that’s not always possible. In such cases, you can create a dropdown menu. Dropdown menus are large lists or panels that open up to an array of options.
To avoid information overload, you can use design tools to create hierarchy within this element. Pay attention to typography and make sure each category and sub category stands out. You can also use extra space around each item so that visitors understand the distinction.
While this is primarily seen on mobile navigation, this simple three line icon is now being seen on many desktop versions of websites, too. The hamburger menu offers a minimal icon that doesn’t interfere with the website’s design and is especially useful when real estate is limited (like on mobile devices).
Sidebar menus are vertical menus placed on the left or right of a website. This is a list that is located on the side of your page. Your sidebar lists can be minimal, or can take centre stage and become an integral part of the design.
Your website footer is a great place to add your social media links, and any other important links that site visitors may find useful. It can also repeat the navigation menu at the top of your page.
Web Design Navigation Tips:
- Add a search bar – Having a customised search bar helps your users look for what they need seamlessly and thus, gives them a more positive experience on your website.
- Label your menu clearly – Having a descriptive navigation menu helps search engines like Google understand the topics your website covers.
- Link your logo back to the homepage – By linking your logo to your homepage, you are considering your users’ behaviours on your website. This is an intuitive action for most website visitors and thus, it is important to include this.
- Indicate what page the user is on – Labelling pages is important for navigation as it allows your users to know where they are clicking onto and if that page has the information they are searching for.
- Ensure visitors can reach any page, from any page – By connecting all your pages, you allow for all pages to be accessible, anytime, anywhere. When you anchor links, this helps users navigate between pages.
There you have it, 5 navigation tips for a smoother user experience. If you are looking to start your next web design project then contact us today!