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Navigation 101: How to make your site easy to use

By 4th March 2021No Comments
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It’s probably pretty obvious why your website should be easy to navigate. Just like a physical building, we expect certain things to be in certain places to help us get around. If it was difficult to find the stairs or lift visitors would feel frustrated quite quickly. The key difference between a website and a building is that it’s very easy to leave a website quickly. One difficult-to-find menu or hard to read font can send someone back to their search results very quickly.

Check your website’s Google Analytics right now and you might see the ‘bounce rate’ is a little bit higher than you’d like. One potential reason why is your site isn’t satisfying or easy to navigate.

Want to fix your site navigation and keep people on your site? This is how.

Navigate your site like you’re a customer (or ask a friend)

When you’ve spent a lot of time designing a website, or even just briefing a design for a website and overseeing it, it can be difficult to view it objectively. Browse it as if you’re a brand new visitor and you’re interested in a specific product or service, then test how quick and easy it is to find what you need. You might want to ask a friend to browse it for you too. Nothing highlights problems and glitches like a fresh pair of eyes!

Make your menu bar clear and logical

Some websites can work well as just a single, scrolling landing page, particularly if your service or product offering is particularly simple and you only want visitors to navigate that specific page. Most websites, however, need multiple pages and the best way to navigate them is a menu bar.

Your menu bar should be logically organised and cover your range of products or services. This will give people the ability to choose where they want to go immediately, or navigate to another page easily if they’ve arrived at your site through a landing page. For example, if you were a jewellery designer your menu could include:

  • Home
  • About
  • Necklaces
  • Rings
  • Bracelets
  • Earrings
  • Contact

The more detailed your range of products or services, the more layers of navigation you might need. If your range of jewellery was very small it might make more sense to have a single page of products and a filter function instead.

Check the mobile version works too

Mobile makes up a bigger percentage of overall web traffic every year. Most smart website building tools will give you the option of toggling between desktop and mobile view. It’ll automatically convert your design to fit a mobile screen but it won’t always be seamless and might need some adjustments.

Switch to the mobile view and ensure your menu bar is just as easy to open and navigate. Lots of layers and subsections might not fit comfortably on the screen and you need to know that sooner rather than later.

Use accessible features

Some of your website visitors might be put off instantly because it’s not accessible to them. People with sight impairment and other disabilities often use specific tools to help them browse on their phone or desktop, which rely on alt tags, ARIA labels, and other features on your website to read things out loud.

Your navigation menu should be keyboard operable, in a conventional location, and take advantage of the various accessibility features that help people move from page to page. With the right features and adjustments, your website can be used easily by everyone.

Get in touch with us today for a website accessibility audit

We can help make your website more accessible in 2021 and keep your site visitors engaged. Contact our web design team to get your project started.