Web Design, Web Development

Getting The Navigation Of Your Website Right

Rushik Shah User Icon By: Rushik Shah

The Navigation of Your Website

  • If you are a designer you will know that the navigation of your website is one of the most important elements of the design that ensures user experience. If the user can navigate through your website with ease then it reduces the bounce rates. One other thing to take care of is that the visitor finds the navigation with ease.
  • This is commonly not an issue, however many websites have some fancy theme and design a fancy navigation too. Although the navigation is perfectly fitting the theme, at times it does not serve the purpose if the visitor cannot find it at the first glance.
  • For most of the websites navigation is usually not such a big issue though since they have a traditional form of navigation that consists of a primary navigation bar at the top supported by sub menus. But the same cannot be said for mega sites. Designing navigation menus for a mega site requires some special skill.

Mega site – What is it?

  • A mega site is as the name suggests a large website what has a wide range of products or services on offer. It is likely to have a massive user base as well. A mega site can be an e-commerce website, an informational website, a news company website, even and educational website.
  • Typically it would owed by a large organization and be many levels deep, be extremely large. It is likely to be made up of many micro websites and subsections and even cater to a diverse audience. Such websites usually have a multiple entry point. For example organizations like BBC and Microsoft have true mega sites.

The Navigation Nightmare:

  • Traditional navigation structures are well-suited for accommodating up to three levels, occasionally supplemented by specialized JavaScript-driven menus that provide informative options. Nonetheless, if your website is expansive and demands more than three levels of navigation, you’ll encounter spatial constraints, potentially causing the menu to exceed the screen boundaries.
  • Another challenge arises with content-heavy websites: as they amass extensive information, navigating to inner pages may lead to a loss of contextual awareness. This occurs because the overall structure of the website becomes less evident, possibly affecting user experience. Furthermore, such intricate navigation structures can impact search engine rankings by affecting the site’s crawlability and accessibility. It’s essential to strike a balance between the depth of your navigation and the user-friendly experience, considering its implications on both search engine optimization and user engagement.
  • Breadcrumbs come in handy in such situations and can help the visitors stay in context. However the traditional navigation will not be able to support multiple entry points.

Imagine an education website with lots of different courses and many students using it. When a student wants info about a specific course, they just want to go straight to that course’s page. They’re not really interested in the whole big website, which we know is really large. But, with the usual menus that help you move around the website, students always see the whole huge website first, whether they want to or not. Now, think about a hamburger menu – it’s a small menu that you can open up when you want. If we had that, students could focus right away on the course they want info about. This makes it easier for them to get the info they need without feeling overwhelmed by the big website.

The Solution:

  • The good news is, there’s a way to make it easier to move around really big websites. The not-so-good news is, there’s no perfect answer. One way people try is by getting rid of the usual menus that help you go from one place to another. Instead, they make the website as separate pages and hope visitors use a search bar and tags to find what they need. This can be good because it works for websites of any size, and it’s great for people who come from links that go straight to a specific page. It also makes the pages work together better and lets you add or remove pages easily. But, there are problems too. You need to make sure all the pages are tagged correctly, and the search bar has to be really strong. So, while this is an option, it might not be the very best one since it has its own challenges.
  • Another popular solution that is used by many existing mega sites on the internet is to split the big website in to several smaller micro sites. BBC has done exactly that with their massive website. They have broken down their website into several sub-websites like news, sports, TV, radio, etc. Each of these sub-websites has their own navigation as a solution, instead of having one big navigation for the entire website. This kind of navigation can have a have affect the overall feel of the website giving the visitor a disjoined experience. The way to avoid this is to ensure consistency in the top level navigation.
  • Another very popular solution to this issue is to make use of the breadcrumb drive approach. This approach too does away with traditional navigation. Instead there is a page that consists of all to options on the website. This will usually be the home page that consists of all the main categories and a few sub categories of links. The subsequent inner pages will then use breadcrumbs to help the user identify where they are at all times within the navigational hierarchy. This approach has been implemented by the government of UK for their website Gov.UK and has been done very effectively. The advantages of this method are obvious. To start with there is no top navigation hence the space on the top can be saved. This helps keep the website simple, clean and easy to understand. To top it all it goes very well with the mobile devices. The focus is more on the content and less on the bigger picture. All said there are some common issues with this kind of a navigation system too.
  • The downside being that by relying completely on breadcrumbs and in page links for the children links the visitor is completely blind to the overall context and the bigger picture of the website. While that is perfectly fine if the visitor is only accessing a specific section of the website for that particular information. But what if the visitor is not accessing just one bit of information and is doing some research or if the content he is accessing is spread out over several different sections he might find it difficult. That said the way the website Gov.UK has been managed is extremely good. Each section is well defined and independent of the other sections and this approach seems flawless as far as this website is concerned.

Conclusion:

Undoubtedly, website navigation stands as a pivotal design aspect in any website. As a website expands, managing its navigation becomes progressively challenging. In such cases, exploring alternative navigation designs becomes crucial. Various alternatives exist, but the choice hinges on factors like the website’s nature, content, visitor types, and behavior. Amidst established solutions to the extensive navigation quandary, a tailored approach aligned with your Web Development Firm’s unique attributes can be devised.

Take Alakmalak, for instance, a proficient creator of top-notch websites catering to a global clientele. Their portfolio boasts over 2000 websites spanning diverse categories, from e-commerce to informational platforms, and bespoke solutions for entities like law firms. However, their expertise extends beyond mere development. At Alakmalak, they dedicate themselves to comprehending each client’s specific needs, even if it entails lengthy discussions to ensure precision.

In navigating this realm, elements like menu items, navigation menus, and internal links guide users smoothly through the website. For mobile users, menu bars and drop-down menus facilitate easy exploration. Understanding user behavior through tools like Google Analytics enhances navigation efficiency. Adapting to varying screen sizes ensures seamless experiences across devices. Every navigation link plays a role in influencing conversion rates. In this intricate interplay of navigation elements, creating tailored navigation strategies aligned with the website’s objectives becomes paramount.

Thus there is little chance you will go wrong if you go with Alakmalak.

 

 

  • e-commerce website
  • Navigation Nightmare
  • navigation of your website
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