Your website’s navigation (or menu) is one of the most important factors when it comes to the success of your website. Let’s take a look at 9 essential best practices for your website menu design.
But first, let’s discuss what a navigation menu is and why it’s such a crucial component of your website.
The main purpose of your website’s navigation menu is to help visitors find content. Good website navigation will make it easy for your visitors to find what they’re looking for AND for search engines to crawl. So, website navigation, when done right, is good for your visitors and your SEO performance. The result will be more conversions and greater search visibility.
When we visit a website, we have an expectation of being able to navigate with ease and enjoy a great user experience but sadly not every website is designed as well as it should be. Here I’m sharing 9 essential best practices for your website menu design so visitors to your website will have a great experience. Let’s dive in.
1. Choose menu order strategically
The first and last items on any list are the most effective and your website’s navigation menu is no exception to this rule. Put your most important items first, contact last and the least important items in the middle.
2. Less is more – streamline your navigation bar
Our short-term memories can only hold seven items. So less is more when it comes to your website’s navigation. If you have a lot of menu items, chances are your visitors may scan past important items. Every time you remove a menu item, the remaining items become more prominent. Challenge yourself to limit your navigation to seven items or less.
3. Use standard conventions for placement
Visitors expect to find horizontal navigation across the top of your website or vertical navigation down the left side of your website. Putting your navigation menu in these standard locations makes your site easier to use.
4. Use familiar language
Your navigation menu isn’t the place to get creative with the language you use. Use terms that a visitor would expect to see and understand immediately. Don’t leave anything up for interpretation or cause the visitor to think about what it means. Make it user friendly.
5. Use responsive navigation
Responsive design means that your website looks good on all screen sizes – desktop, laptop, tablet and mobile. Your navigation menu should be responsive as well. For mobile devices you’ll want to use a compact navigation style called the hamburger menu, an icon consisting of three horizontal lines. This is a great way to navigate on a mobile device without taking up too much space.
6. Link back to your home page with your logo
This might seem obvious as it’s become pretty standard, but there are still some websites that don’t implement this. It’s actually not necessary to have a page called home in your navigation as it’s standard practice that clicking on the logo in the header will take you back to the home page.
7. Be as descriptive as possible
Your menu should be descriptive. Don’t use terms like services or products which are generic to all businesses. Your menu is also a great place to indicate relevance to search engines. I’m guessing your ideal client isn’t searching the term services on Google.
8. Think twice about drop-down menus
Drop down menus can be annoying to visitors to your website so it’s best practice not to use them unless it’s a mega menu. Those have been found to work really well for large e-commerce sites offering lots of products.
9. Don’t forget the footer
The footer has traditionally been a spot for your legal pages, but fat footers are becoming increasingly popular. This can be a great location for helpful links.
Website navigation can make or break your visitors’ experience. If visitors can’t find what they want, they’ll leave. The easier your navigation experience is, the quicker visitors will be able to find the information they’re looking for and the more time they’ll will spend on your site. If you’d like to see some examples of good website menu design click here.
I hope you found these 9 essential best practices for your website menu design helpful. If you’d like to have an audit of your current navigation structure and discuss ways that it can be improved upon, I offer website strategy boosts where we can go over just that. You can click here for more information and to sign up for one.