Developing a website is a balancing act that you can easily learn. You have to make sure data-driven decision making and usability concerns conform to the design of website navigation systems. Navigation helps users find information and functionality, encouraging them to take desirable actions. It allows them to get from one part of a site to another and includes standard elements such as search bars, top-level menu items, and dropdown lists. It also provides users with a sense of context and comfort as they explore new places.
Website navigation conventions may be challenged but should not break out from traditional navigation systems. It must allow visitors to visit a website for the first time and immediately let them get around knowingly, regardless of whether the content on that site is familiar or completely foreign.
To make sure your website can easily be navigated, consider the following tips in your design:
Tip #1: Think twice before putting up a persona-specific website
Developing a clear, well-documented image of your client’s buyer personas can help you in developing your website’s information architecture. However, persona-specific navigation forces your visitors to self-identify and can make them feel that they are alienated. You might also miss out on some profiles or fail to identify their need which decreases the availability of information which can lead them to nowhere. Therefore, avoid a navigational structure with “I am an xxx searching for xxx.”
Tip #2: Do not focus on format-based navigation
Some developers believe that users are seeking out videos when visiting a website. Video is a great way to deliver information about your business in an engaging way. It also increases the time-on-page and promotes social sharing and organic growth. However, you must keep in mind that people are coming to your site to seek out answers to specific questions, not specific types of content unless of course, you are Youtube or Netflix. Therefore, avoid resource categories like “Videos”, “Ebooks” and “Blog Posts” but rather use “Understanding xxx” or “How to xxx.”
Best Practice #3: Steer clear of branded terminology for SEO
The goal of search engine optimisation is to land your business on the first page of search results for certain terms. To achieve this, you have to generate high-quality content with your target keywords among other strategies that may cost you time and money.
Some businesses coin new keywords then disseminate them with hopes that once they increase in popularity, they will be the first one there. However, branding may or may not do the trick. Top-level navigation is focused on helping users find what they need and people normally type in keywords that are ‘unbranded.” SEO is a vital factor but if it doesn’t help navigation do its job, it’s just being detrimental to the user experience.
Your website should answer to how users call your product or service, not how you call them. Before breaking out from the best practices, consider the long history of standardized navigation systems as well as the high costs of breaking from these conventions. Otherwise, just go with the norm.