A typical user takes about a few seconds to figure out what is there on the website and whether the user should stay on the website or hop to a new one.
Everyone searches the net to fulfill a specific purpose or to find for certain services. If user intentions are not served, the user will immediately search for new websites to suit his needs. In this short time, navigation can make or break the user experience for your website.
Messy or confusing navigation can frustrate the user or make the user feel that the website is of no use. On the contrary, sorted and well-organized navigation can certainly assure that the website has the upper hand over complicated ones.
For example, to find a company's contact, the user is more likely to search the header or footer or find the contact tab. He would never want to open the about menu and look for contact details within it.
Navigation is critical. The navigation design has a greater impact on user experience than the design alone. However, the navigation design itself is a part of UI design. Navigation holds this high held place in designing because it affects the overall traffic on the website.
Navigation not only has a tremendous effect on the user experience but also affect the site click-through.
Now let us take a look at some strict "NOs" while structuring the navigation.
- First, BIG NO. Do not bunch all menus together and make top navigation crowded. Only 6 to 7 top menu tabs should be present for an ideal layout. More the number, the lesser attention each one gets. Only the most important ones should be placed at the top.
- Keep the styling for the navigation traditional and straightforward. Too flashy makes it slow to display on different devices. Here, a standard type means that a vital navigation bar should lie horizontally on the top of the page or vertical left side. Moreover, the essential menu first.
- Avoid excessive dropdown menus or too many options while navigating. It confused users and make an unpleasant experience. Dropdown menus are not as convenient to users as direct links are.
- Unclear and ambiguous menu names make navigation hard and unpleasant for users. Clear and short names can convey what to expect after clicking the menu. The idea of good navigation is to take users to their destination quickly and effectively.
- While taking care of the above point, one must be sure to avoid jargon. The website is for all users, not only for experts. Make sure that the language used must be easily understood.
- Do not make the same navigation design for all sized display devices. Design navigation separately for small and large display devices. For example, a navigation bar may appear horizontally on a laptop for a particular site, but the same navigation bar would appear vertically on a mobile phone. It is a must to provide equally excellent user experience for all display devices.
Summing it up, here we would conclude that navigation is the boat that keeps us floating in the middle of the alluring and serene sea, our website. No matter how beautiful the ocean is, we would always need our boat to explore the exquisite sea. Moreover, we must always design our navigation according to the website theme, purpose, and, most importantly, the target audience.
Feel free to share your ideas in the comment section. Who knows one day someone somewhere would take your ideas to be their life saviors!