— July 5, 2019
In this video blog, Karl Feldman will explain some of the common missteps that we see with a lot of our clients and in the market when it comes to website navigation.
Let’s talk about some website navigation no-nos. Hopefully, we’ll come out of this conversation with some go-gos. But we’re going to hit some of the common missteps that we see with a lot of our clients and just out there in the market when it comes to website navigation.
Being data-driven, we see a lot of examples and we’ve got a lot of analytics that drive our consideration when it comes to website navigation. So, what we’re going to cover here today are just a few tips of common missteps, common pitfalls that, hopefully, you can avoid when you’re thinking about navigation or even adjusting navigation on your website today.
So, number one is a common and tempting challenge. Promotional content finding its way into your Resources section. So, if you think about professional services and what we’re trying to accomplish with thought leadership, one thing that we know from our research is that audiences don’t really love being sold to.
So, they’re going to a Resources section to be educated, to understand what expertise you bring to the table and how you might think about solving their specific problems. Now, that’s not to say you don’t pepper that with some calls-to-action and links to places for audiences to raise their hand. But don’t be tempted to put in promotional items, like events or news items.
Think about it with this simple rule. If something is about you or your firm, that should go under news. It should go under the About section of your navigation because that’s what users are looking for in that context. Second, redundant or unclear navigation.
We still see a lot of websites out there that have things like home navigation in a top-level menu. Users have been trained to go around that. If you think of all of our experiences with Google or any of the top websites that you use, there have been iconography that’s been developed over time, simple navigation, knowing that clicking on a logo will take you back to home is pretty universal.
And in the same thread, items that you want to promote, you don’t necessarily need to double up on those in your navigation because what that leads to, when we do user experience research, we see confusion. So, it’s unclear where a user is going to land if you have the same thing appearing in multiple places within your navigation.
Navigation is also not a place to brand specifically. So, going along that same line of clarity and understanding where are you going to land as a user through navigation, it’s really important to use really clear language to describe the different sections within navigation.
Try and steer away from proprietary internal language, even if it’s a cool brand for something, resist the urge to use that in your navigation. Remember that your users may not know anything about you or your brand. So, it’s really important to think of what language is really going to resonate and provide clarity to them as they navigate through your website.
From a functional perspective, you want to avoid things like what we affectionately call the Pac-Man scenario. If your menu behaves like a video game, and you’ve got to have level 10 skills to navigate and find your way through a maze of options, that’s probably too complex.
You want to try and break down your content and navigational structure to be as simple as possible. And remember that, users can then bucket and refine their search once they land on pages that have a little bit more contextual information to guide their journey. Last, but definitely not least, don’t skimp on mobile experience. This is a trend that we see rising year over year and, in fact, accelerating in the online space.
Mobile experience is huge. Just think of your own experience and how much content you consume on your phone or tablet. And you can apply that experience to the same thing that your users are facing. So, make sure to think about what content is most important to share in a mobile scenario, and what’s going to create a nice experience.
The types of navigation at work when you have a fine control like a mouse, aren’t necessarily going to be great when you’re trying to scroll through on a phone with your big thumb. So, keep that in mind. Google and other search engines are continuing to really favor engagement and speed in the mobile experience because they’re selling more and more mobile advertising, and that’s where the users are migrating.
So, keep that in mind, both for search engine visibility and also user experience, and what is most relevant in those different contexts. If you’d like to learn more about this, I encourage you to check out the Visible Firm Course on Hinge University. There’s a lot more information there on this topic and others that are related.