Posted: Saturday, Dec 25, 2010
Whether your website is the product of a huge team and a small fortune, or just your skills, there are certain navigation pitfalls you have to avoid. Frustrating, counter-intuitive navigation is unbelievably irritating for the average web browser. If you don’t put thought into your design, visitors will click the back button after just a cursory browse of your page.
You should avoid pop ups at all costs. No matter how important you think the message is, a popup is not the way to do it. It instantly destroys your relationship with the visitor because they think it’s an advertisement. Or worse, that you have no respect for your web visitors. Don’t think this is related to navigation? Your visitor will have to close this window before doing anything else. Wasting mouse clicks will fray their patience.
While we are on the subject of clicking, do everything in your power to minimize mouse clicks. If you have an entry page that is useless (think, a page with just a logo and a “click here to enter” link), get rid of it. You should also have a menu of all the pages on every page of your website to avoid constant clicks of the “back” button to get to your homepage. Many sites do this efficiently with a menu that spans the top or one side of the page. Make sure that this menu is not only on the bottom of the page. You might think it’s a clever trick for people to have to scroll through your content (or press the back button to the homepage) to get to the navigation menu. But, it is annoying for visitors. It’s a good idea to have a menu with eye-catching images at the top of the page and a minimal, text-only menu at the bottom. Also, include a link to your home page on every page.
More Tips to Consider
If you are some type of multimedia or design company, than you absolutely should have multimedia clips of your services and work. If you are not, skip the slideshows and videos that are a pain to load. Waiting for a needless flashy thingamabob to load puts the breaks on easy navigation.
Navigation is also impacted by the site’s readability. If a particular page has less than three hundred words, you have some decisions to make. If you can’t write more than that on the topic, your visitor will think you barely know anything about it. Merge brief pages together, minimizing clicks and cluttered links in your menu. On the other hand, unless your visitor knows that they are clicking on a longer article, your pages shouldn’t contain thousands of words. Constantly scroll with no end in sight will cause your visitors to lose patience.
Easy navigation is all about respect for your visitors. You should be thankful that they came to the website that you worked so hard on. Now, repay them by letting them get to your great content as quickly as possible!