What is website navigation? Why is it important?

31 Aug 2022

Design & development

Megan Boyle

Megan Boyle

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What is website navigation?

Website navigation allows users to find exactly what they are looking for on a website. This may be through a drop down menu or links within a piece of content. The main purpose of website navigation is to provide optimal user experience on a site. Which is exactly what you need to ensure business success.


What is a navigation menu?

A navigation menu, or navigation bar, directs a user to internal pages within a website. This allows them to find relevant pages and information easily. This menu may be in the form of a bar along the top of the site, a drop down menu or a hamburger menu. A navigation menu is a staple for any website – it will keep a site looking tidy and accessible.


Why is website navigation important? 

the audit lab website navigation menu

Website navigation is an essential part of a user’s experience on a site. If they can’t find what they’re looking for via a drop down menu, they are likely to quickly leave a site. That’s why it’s vital that your website has all of your products, services and content pages included in the navigation menu for a user to access. Poor website navigation can impact heavily on conversions and bounce rates.


No one is going to trail through a site for a product that isn’t listed in the navigation bar. They will most likely believe it isn’t offered. Having a logical website navigation has the added benefit of showing a user everything your site has to offer. They might even purchase something they were not originally looking for. 


What is breadcrumb navigation?

A breadcrumb navigation shows a user which pages they’ve clicked on to end up at their current page. This is usually listed in the left corner of the page, and is in a chain format. For example, ‘Home / Home and Furniture / Bedding / Mattress Toppers’. Each part of the chain is made up of hypertext. This means if a user clicks on ‘Bedding’, they will be taken back to this page. 


Why is breadcrumb navigation important? 

Breadcrumb navigation is a great way to tell Google how your site is structured. It defines the move between category pages to product pages in a logical and methodical way. 


Best practices for website navigation 

How can you make sure that your website navigation is easy to follow, and provides a user with everything they need? We’ve put together a few tips to help you create the ideal website navigation. 


1. Organise your navigation menu

Keep your navigation menu simple and logical – don’t overcrowd it. Think like one of your users. What would you want to see in the navigation bar? It is also important to use the navigation menu to your advantage, direct customers straight to your product pages and create some conversions. When it comes to creating headings within your menu, use terminology everyone can understand. This will avoid confusion and protect your bounce rate.


2. Navigation menu placement

We love a unique website, but when it comes to placing the navigation menu, play it safe. Users will need to access the menu as soon as they get onto your site, so make sure it is easily accessible.


3. Make use of the footer 

Footers are a great place to expand on sections that may not have been well-suited to the navigation bar. Include links to various pages within your site, and you may even want to add some contact information or opening hours. 


4. Optimise for mobile 

A high majority of customers will access your site via their phone, and that’s why optimising for mobile is key. Users need to be able to navigate your site quickly and easily on both desktop and mobile devices. We recommend utilising hamburger menus for your mobile site. This way, your whole navigation menu can be accessed without taking up too much space. 


5. Hypertext

The content on your site – whether it’s a blog or a category page – can be an essential part of website navigation. Using hypertext is a great way to allow users to move from one page to another. Internal links will not only help Google to index and understand your site’s pages, but it is also helpful to users. Ensure that your linked text appears in a different colour – this way, users know that it is an internal link.


Hopefully we’ve convinced you just how important website navigation is. If you’re looking to refresh your navigation menu, or maybe your whole site, our web design and development team are here to help. Get in touch with us today and improve your user’s experience.

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