How Poor Web Navigation in Your Site Can Ruin a Visitor’s Experience

Have you ever been to a website and couldn’t find the information due to poor navigation? You work hard to attract visitors so don’t make it difficult for them to navigate your web pages otherwise you’ll lose potential sales and/or subscribers.

When I’m searching for information I want to find it as fast as possible. I don’t want to click through a ton of links to find it. Ideally I should find the information within 3 clicks otherwise I’m out of there.

7 ways to improve your website navigation

1. Position your navigation bar in the same location on all web pages

Place your navigation bar at the top, left or right side of all your web pages so you have consistency throughout your site and visitors won’t have to search for it. Consistency also applies to the design of your site. Creating a different design for each page will only confuse your visitors.

2. Use contrasting colors

Avoid using the same link color as your background color. Links should stand out from the background so they’ll be easy to recognize.

One mistake I often see website designers make is when someone visits a link it changes to the same color as the background. Most website links have 3 stages of colors:

  • Link color – the color you first see when visiting the web page.
  • Visited link color – the color of the link after you’ve clicked on it.
  • Hover link color – the color displayed when you hover your mouse over the link.

Make sure you use a different color for each stage so the visitor will know the result of their actions as they explore your site. This can easily be achieved site wide using CSS (cascading style sheets).

3. Use descriptive text

Your link text (anchor text) should clearly describe the subject of each page you are linking to. For instance if you offer services name your link “services.” Keep your hyperlink text short, descriptive and to the point.

4. Include a “home” link on all pages

Sometimes I can’t find my way back to the home page because the designer didn’t include a home page link in the navigation bar on internal pages. It doesn’t have to be on the home page but make sure you include a home page link on all other pages.

Alternatively include a “back” button on each page and link your logo to the main page on your site.

5. Include a Site Map

This not only helps your visitors but the search engines also. Your site map is like a table of contents so visitors can easily view the structure of your site and find the page they seek. When search engines visit the site map page they can index all the links of your site from one page. This helps speed up the indexing of your pages.

6. Avoid using images for navigation

Images may look good on your website however the problem is they don’t get indexed by the search engines because they don’t contain text. Instead use CSS to style your navigation so you can use text. CSS enable you to use different link colors, background images plus it makes your navigation bar easy to maintain site wide. For example if you wanted to change the hover color of all your navigation links you would only need to edit one line in your style sheet.

7. Avoid using flash

Some reasons not to use flash for navigation include:

  • Search engines can’t index flash
  • Slow rollover transitions
  • Not all computer users have flash installed on their computers

If you must use flash then include text links in a visible location on your web pages.

After completing the design of your website ask someone who doesn’t use the Internet often to navigate your site. You’ll soon discover how effective it is.

Related Articles

How to Create an Effective Web Site Navigation Structure
How to Create a Custom 404 Error Page to Stop Losing Website Visitors

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