Website Navigation Mistakes to Avoid

Something that is sometimes overlooked, or perhaps underappreciated, when creating a website is strategically structuring its navigation. The overall design of the navigation, the pages you select to add to it, and even the order of the pages selected to be on it are extremely important. If your visitors can’t easily find what they’re looking for, they’re not going to find what they want, get frustrated, and bounce over to one of your competitor’s websites.

Below are some quick tips you can take to improve your website’s navigation.

Keep it Simple
A cluttered menu with fonts and/or colors that are hard to read is one of the quickest ways to get your visitors to leave your website. I firmly believe that your navigation should look as simple as possible – don’t make your visitors work hard to find what they came to your website for. Take a look at Exult’s menu above and you’ll see it’s extremely clean and simple with five links – we did this intentionally.

There are other places to add links aside from the main navigation. On some pages, it might make sense to incorporate interior menus. Fat footers have been popular for a few years and could be another great option, depending on your website. Zappos is a great example of a website with a good fat footer structure.

Order Matters
The order of pages in your website’s navigation is extremely important. You’ll want to prioritize your pages, with the most prominent at the beginning and you’re your lower priority pages elsewhere. There are pages you know that you want to have on your menu, but there are some that may surprise you. If you’re using Google Analytics to track your website visitors, check out your Behavior Flow to see exactly what links your visitors are clicking the most.

Let’s look at Homage, a popular vintage-themed clothing company based out of Columbus. Their website has a TON of pages, yet they have prioritized their most important pages in an incredibly easy to understand way:

I love how they have a link for New Arrivals, with a smart drop-down menu expanding on what’s new. The same goes for Shop – they break it down by collections and other items. Without a doubt, they put a substantial amount of time and research into constructing their navigation.

Consider Removing Navigation Entirely on Special Pages
It should be no surprise that your website should have a uniform look to it. What might be surprising, however, is that you may want to evaluate removing your main navigation entirely off of a few pages. If you’re using highly targeted landing pages, perhaps the only way someone will find it is through a paid ad, it might be a good idea to remove your main navigation so the visitor downloads the targeted offer or fills out the form on the page.

Another area to consider removing the main navigation is on the checkout page of an eCommerce website. This is potentially a great strategy to help reduce abandoned carts because users will be tempted to complete the transaction instead of possibly going back to browse other pages and ultimately end up not making a purchase.

Make Sure You Have a Great Mobile Menu
It’s no shocker: more people are browsing websites on their smartphones than traditional computers. While it’s still very much a necessity to have a navigation that looks great on a laptop, you need to put serious thought into a navigation that’s easy for mobile visitors.

I really like the mobile menu on Cell Phone Repair’s website. They’re a service that people don’t really need to go to unless they’re in an emergency – such as having a cracked phone screen – and don’t have time to look around a crowded website.

It’s easy to navigate to specific pages, plus they have some cool additional features including social icons, a button to check your repair status, and another button to find the location closest to you.

The Conclusion
It takes a lot of effort for most companies to get visitors to their website. Whether you’re getting visitors through referrals, paid ads, or ranking high on Google, don’t scare them away with a poorly designed navigation!

If you are questioning whether your navigation needs some work, reach out to us for a free, no-pressure review.