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Good Navigation is Critical and Not All Are Created Equally

by Joe Schaefer No Comments November 17, 2012

I love the this quote: “Design is an opportunity to continue telling the story, not just to sum everything up” by Tate Linden.

And while some would argue that creating a website navigation isn’t really a design issue, I disagree. The design of a website’s navigation is aesthetics, functionality, and information delivery. With that said, your navigation is part of the story and it needs massaging and planning because not all navigations are created equally.

Navigation As An Element of Experience

Hopefully your web designer is not overlooking anything, especially those critical areas of your website that encourage staying on the site, fulfilling a need (or needs), and helping the conversion process.

Your site’s navigation, as an element of the experience, has to work or else the above aspects of the website will suffer.

Main Message Interrupted

Remember, not all of your visitors land on your homepage. Because of SEO or referral links that link deep into your site, your visitors can pretty much land on any given page. Without a working navigation (working in the technical sense and with clarity), your visitors can easily bounce and/or abandon the site all together.

Website Visitors Hate Work

No one is going to put in the time and effort to get around your site because it feels like work. Plus, if the navigation is clunky or confusing, that means, to the visitor, that your brand is too. You don’t want that kind of brand reputation. Think beyond color schemes and logos when considering your brand.

Don’t let your visitors get ‘stuck’. This is mostly for landing pages that can exist as ‘orphan’ pages to a site. In other words, if your landing page doesn’t have (or has and is not consistent) an easy-to-use navigation, you might as well go write a glowing testimonial for your competitors.

Organize Your Navigation With a Hierarchy of Importance

Your site should be well-organized. Remember, the idea is to help satisfy a need for your visitors. You’ll want to do this with as little effort on their part as possible. Don’t assume your average visitor understands your products and services automagically. If necessary, use primary and secondary navigation schemes to break complex topics into their bite-sized morsels of information. And, keep your organization so that no visitor has to satisfy their need by clicking more than 3 times to get there.

If They Can’t Find It, They Can’t Read It

You’ve put a lot of money, time and energy (hopefully) into creating, aggregating, and commissioning good content for your site. If it can’t be found or is too arduous a task to get to it, you’re going to lose your customer.

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