Have you ever gone to a website and wondered: “How do I find what I want here?”
Website structure and navigation is one of the most important factors in getting information to your customers and ensuring that they stay on your website by finding what they want.
With the advent of mobiles and “hamburger” menus, those 3 vertical lines you see at the top of most websites and apps such as Facebook and Spotify, getting your navigation right is more important than ever.
Focus on Your Key Pages
What are the main areas of your website which you want potential customers to go to? If you are an online shop, your main links might be your Shopfront, Delivery and Returns info. If you are offering products and services then you may want people to see your Services, FAQs and Contact pages.
Think of your website from a customer’s perspective; put yourself in their shoes as you browse your website. Alternatively, get a family member or friend to find a piece of information on your website, such as a product, and see how easily they can find it without assistance. Something which you may think is easy to find could be tricky for an external user.
The 3 Click Rule
In order for people to find what they want, you should direct them with as little clicks as possible. This is where the 3 Click Rule is effective. The rule dictates that every page on your website should be accessible in no more than 3 mouse clicks from the homepage.
Can you streamline your product categories? Can you group your services in to sections and direct people in that way? Getting the information to your customers quickly, and with as little hassle as possible, is key.
Search Facilities & Filtering
A search facility can be the quickest way to increase the useability of your website. Especially effective for an online shop and websites with large blogs or news archives, a user can type their search keyword and with one click they can be reading an article or browsing a product. This can be added at the top of your mobile website for an instant focal point, and a call-to-action.
Filtering is an effective method of narrowing down product groups (think of how eBay allows you to filter a search for clothes by colour, size, brand and sleeve length) if at any point you want to remove a filter, a simple click will refresh your options.
Getting the right navigation for your business
Now that you have some ideas to take in to account, think about how you can streamline your website to work better for a customer. Pages such as ‘About Us’, and ‘Meet the Team’ are far less important than a link to your services or your online shop.
Navigational menus generally have a left-to-right structure on a desktop and with that in mind, you will want to keep your key pages on the left side and your less important pages over to the right. On a mobile and tablet, your navigation will be top-to-bottom, and so keeping key links at the top is a must. Highlighting a link in an accent colour will also make it pop up from the page and draw the eye.
A good website structure can be the difference between keeping a potential customer on your website and frustrating them enough for them to leave and try a different search result.