When you land on a website, you can immediately tell if the developers did everything to enhance the user journey and user experience, or if they just gave up on updating it regularly. Sometimes, you need to start exploring the site navigation to detect that developers and designers followed no rules and practices during the development phase.
We live in 2022, when an excellent website design is a must. No business should allow lousy web design and SEO practices on their websites, which results in poor navigation. As web design trends evolve, staying current with the latest developments is important. Your website should reflect your brand image and the type of content you offer. The look of your website will also contribute to the success or failure of your business.
Web design is ever-changing and evolving. Every year new technologies come out, and web designers get better at using them. How do you stay ahead of trends and keep pace with the latest developments? Let’s get deeper into the topic!
How Does a Good Website Look Like?
Websites should be accessible, clean, informative, user friendly, and mobile friendly. They must also be SEO optimized, ranking higher on Google searches and giving visitors what they want. These techniques ensure that your website looks great and functions properly for all devices.
A designer’s job is to create websites that look good and function well. Today, web design is not limited to creating static websites or eCommerce platforms. There are many other ways to build and optimize websites. Some of these include responsive sites, mobile apps, virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) integration, and even social media buttons added.
It seems too much, but when things are getting like that, it’s always a good idea to hire a website redesign service to get most of the website’s potential. Indeed, you must always pay attention to the neat categories, listings, contact forms, landing pages and different sections, and of course, the website navigation.
There are countless ways to create good navigation. Whether you choose to go big or small, classic or modern, straight or curved, there are plenty of options out there. And since no two sites are alike, it pays to experiment until you find the perfect solution for you.
Now, when you know how important is web navigation design, we will focus on the details related to it. By providing relevant tips and examples, we will help you learn even more about web design navigation best practices and how to implement them on your website.
Here are some of the top-rated navigation methods that should get you started:
1. Keep it Simple
Keep it simple! Creating a website that is confusing and hard to navigate is a recipe for failure. If a user can’t find what they want in 10 seconds, they will leave. A good rule of thumb is that if you would struggle to find something in a supermarket, your website probably isn’t intuitive enough.
The visitors want to easily navigate through the categories and find the page they need. They won’t stick around long enough to see your content if they get lost or confused.
This rule applies to the menu bar, sidebars (if any), the homepage structure, and the footer menu. Try to limit the main menu to six or seven links to avoid cluttering. The complex navigation through the categories is far from the web design navigation best practices. In this case, simplicity is the king of functional websites because no visitor has time to study all your categories until they find what they need.
2. Keep Your Page Hierarchy Clear
Hierarchical menus are a great way to organize content on a web page. You can create a clear hierarchy for your content using hierarchical menus. The best practice for managing your menu is to start at the top level and work downward. You should always keep the primary focus of your website’s content at the top level.
When the page hierarchy is tidy and nicely visible, users know where they are and where they need to go to find what they need.
This is another way to keep the web navigation design nice and clean. The ultimate goal is to make the visitors stay, and not leave immediately after they can’t find what they need in a minute.
3. Use Breadcrumbs
Breadcrumbs are navigation elements that allow users to easily return to any page they previously viewed. They are helpful for people who have trouble remembering where they’ve been on a website. A breadcrumb trail is a series of links that lead visitors back to previous pages on a site. These links appear on the top bar of each page. Breadcrumbs help users navigate websites by making it easier for them to find their way around.
You’ve probably seen it already. It’s usually above the product you are looking at, in a simple form like:
Home > Category > Subcategory > Current page
All the elements are correctly linked, so you can navigate easily.
It’s one of the main web design navigation best practices you need to pay attention to if you want to keep the readers engaged.
Note: There can be more elements in the breadcrumbs, depending on the site structure.
4. Use Buttons Only When Needed
There is no point in performing the best website redesign if you use the elements in the wrong places. If you open any good website, you will see that they rarely use buttons, except when they implement CTAs.
Buttons may seem like an exciting thing to do, but it doesn’t work much for modern eCommerce or corporate websites. You can use them when you offer some tools and services the visitor can use directly to your website, to “invite” them or “call for an action.”
Even the “Buy” or “Add to Cart” are calls to action, and it’s great to have buttons for that purpose. But, if you start using them everywhere you think, your visitors can easily get confused and give up on the idea of navigating through your website. So, one thing is for sure, in modern web design navigation best practices, buttons are reserved for CTAs only.
5. Avoid Design Cluttering
How often do you visit websites that look cluttered or confusing? Does the navigation menu take too long to open when you click on links? If your answer is yes, then you probably don’t know where to start improving the user experience (UX) of your site.
A good UX design makes your visitors stay longer and become loyal customers. That’s why getting real users’ feedback before launching your new website is essential. The key to effective UX is knowing how to navigate through a site efficiently.
6. Avoid Static Links
Static links are clickable words or buttons that lead directly to a webpage on a website. As a result, these links are often difficult for users to understand their purpose. Instead of using them, you should try to use dynamic links that open up a new window to the link. Dynamic links allow the URL address to remain unchanged and only show a different content area when clicked.
Why is this important?
Every user expects that when they click on a link, it will open in a new tab or window without messing up their browsing history. This is very important, especially if you use external linking. Can you imagine linking a website, and when the visitor clicks the link, they leave your page and visit someone else’s? That’s literally redirecting them to other websites different than yours. Or in other words said, you serve the others with the audience you attracted by implementing some of the web design navigation best practices (but missing this one out).
7. Try to Keep the Main Design as Clean as Possible
Clean design means clean navigation. Users must find the website attractive enough, so they can start exploring. No one wants dynamic animations and flash effects (it’s pretty outdated practice), and if they find something like that, they will leave.
You surely want the design to be logical and easily accessible. Additionally, less scrolling will keep them engaged enough to explore the website better. No one wants to scroll 15-20 times until they reach the bottom of the page and find what they need. So try to keep the number of pages on each screen as low as possible.
Even though we are sure you don’t do that, it’s worth mentioning that popups can be disturbing, especially when there are too many of them or the close button is tiny and barely visible. Even if you use one popup or two, make sure you give the visitors a direct option to close it and proceed with their user journey.
Pay attention to the links too. Clear links mean visitors will know what’s going on at a glance. Make sure any links are clear and easy to follow. Your navigation should also be color coded to match the rest of your site’s colors.
At last, make sure you are consistent in what you do. Consistency is an important principle in web design. In order to keep users engaged and interested in your website, you’ll want to follow the same style throughout your website. This means following the same color scheme, font size, and layout.
We mentioned the seven most important website navigation practices, but there are many more. So, let’s see what else is important when it comes to clean and concise navigation:
- Define the visitor’s needs
- Monitor the user journey and user experience using the proper tools
- Feature the most important pages on the homepage
- Keep the menu titles short
- Use one or two menu levels in the top navigation
- Don’t use many subcategories
- Make sure you link the most important pages in the footer menu
- Review and redesign the website if needed
- Don’t underestimate the mobile version of your website
- Make sure all menus are visible on the mobile version
- Always test the new design before you launch it officially
All these things can make your website stand out, and be recognizable among visitors.
Examples of bad Website Design Navigation Practices
Many people fail to detect the real issues of the website. Sometimes they do that because of the lack of knowledge or the trust they have in web designers. Also, some business owners think that animations and flash media are still a thing. We can’t blame it on anyone because not everyone shares the same interest in keeping the navigation clean and tidy.
Still, we can find many websites that use bad navigation practices, like:
- Difficult to follow navigation
- Confusing layout
- The theme that doesn’t work with the particular industry
- Too many graphic multimedia contents
- Still not using responsive and compatible versions of the website
- No clear message related to the purpose of the website
- Animated intro with no visible X-button
- Cluttered design of the homepage
- Animations and colorful elements that distract the attention
- No mobile optimization
Bad practices increase the bounce rate, i.e., leaving the website in less than 30 seconds. It takes even less time for the user to leave if they see many bad design practices implemented on your website.
Navigation is one of the most important aspects of web design. Users should be able to easily navigate through your site without having to read every word. Web designers often struggle with creating navigation systems that are both intuitive and effective.
So, there are a few options possible. One of them is hiring a company to provide the web design navigation best practices and give you a functional product at the end. Another option is to explore this topic alone and see what you can implement in your web navigation design.
No matter which option you choose, you will surely get noticed, and your website will be optimized and useful to visitors.
Never underestimate the importance of web design navigation best practices, even if it means you need to invest more time and money until you have the perfect website. In the end, you will see it was all worth it.