When you are driving without a map in an area that you have never visited before, you are sure to get lost and frustrated. This is true for websites that have poor navigability and thus make it hard for visitors to find their way around leading to frustration. This entire scenario is bound to cause visitors not to return to the same website again. Usability.gov is an official website managed by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services that has published the following statistics:
- Nearly 50% of the potential sales are lost because users are unable to find information and 40% of the users do not return to a website after a first negative experience. (Forrester Research)
- 60% of the time people are unable to find the information they are looking for. (User Interface Engineering, Inc.)
Therefore, navigation is a very important component of website design as it takes the users to different sections on a website. During the web design process, web designers should emphasize on good website navigation as it is essential for the website’s success. Website navigation must make the website design easy to use, intuitive and appear well constructed. Users who face accessibility issues on one website search for information elsewhere.
When website developers design websites, they should consider the following points:
- Accessibility through all web pages: A website cannot be only accessed through the homepage. All the other website pages are also likely to be opened first through search engines, and back links from other websites or bookmarks. Whatever the case maybe, visitors should be able to find their way through your website and this can be achieved when there are clear links between your web pages.
- Differentiate Primary/secondary Navigation: A good website design navigation should clearly have the primary navigation (on the left/right/top showing the important links/categories), secondary navigation (on the bottom of page showing sub categories), and brief, descriptive and intuitive navigation link titles.
- Limit the Links: Every page should have a reasonable number of links because the greater the number of links, less likely it is for the user to click on all of them. Links should aid the visitor in finding the information they require because they won’t click on each one of them to find out what is hidden behind them. You should cluster similar links in categories and let visitors discover them when they click.
- Universal Navigation: Navigation should be universal and appear on each page because it is good for search engine optimization since the search engine spiders can easily access the web pages and it also eliminates the possibility of any dead end pages.
- Placement Consistency: The navigation buttons should be placed on the same location on every page of the website. With this, visitors can expect the navigational menu at the same position and this reduces the element of surprise.
Website developers should create a navigation design that is accessible, meaningful, understandable, and prevalent. Good navigation is fundamental to a good website design for all kinds of websites.