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Navigation Menu: How to Improve Website Navigation

A good navigation menu is key to improving the user experience. Learn how a navigation menu can help your website with this guide.

If you are having bad results with your metrics for your web page, maybe it's not your content. Perhaps you need some help with your website navigation. The navigation menu is one of the key components of your website that helps people move from page to page and from links within and outside of your pages.

How your navigation menu is presented to your visitors is critical in helping them learn what you have to offer, as well as focusing on improving the professionalism of your site. Does your navigation bar look like it could use some help? If so, read on.

What is navigation on a website?

Navigation, simply put, is how you orient yourself and move from one place to the next. So, website navigation is the means and methods that are used to maneuver around a website. Your navigation menu is the starting place for your visitors to jump to other pages on your site, or other links within the pages that you have created.

Content is still king, but users probably won't visit your blog, your articles, or your other offerings unless they know how to get there. And they cannot get there without a navigation menu.

If your navigation is neat and user-friendly, you will have more visitors because they will find your page easy to navigate. If it is not user-friendly, they are more likely to leave your page due to the difficulty of getting around or of the general appearance of the site.

And don't forget your mobile users. When using a mobile device, it’s essential that a website be easy to navigate. If website navigation on your mobile device is clunky or not user-friendly, then visitors are likely to leave and visit a competitor with better mobile website navigation. That's a pretty good reason as to why you need your site to be responsive and friendly to mobile users.

Your menu is visible on your main landing page, as well as all of the pages that you enable visitors to see it from. It is usually placed on each and every page so that it is always available to visitors, no matter which page they are on.

Why is website navigation important?

The website navigation bar and menu are important because they allow visitors and clients to go exactly where they want to go. It makes them feel in control of their experience on your website, rather than feeling as though they are being led by some automation-based scrolling system as is often seen on so-called "minimalist" sites.

There's nothing wrong with minimalism in its purest form, but customers want to feel that they can go where they want to go without much hassle, and it is to your advantage to help them do that.

The bottom line is that by creating a website that’s easy to navigate, you can:

  • Make your website easy to use
  • Keep visitors on your website for longer periods of time
  • Enable visitors to better explore your offerings
  • Improve search engine rankings
  • Promote a professional image

What is a navigation menu?

A navigation menu is typically a horizontal or vertical bar that can be found on every one of your website’s landing pages. With a navigation menu, visitors can easily make their way around your website and get to where they want to go, whether it’s your online store or your about us page.

Having a navigation menu is extremely important when it comes to user experience. Nearly 50% of users who arrive at a company website via a referral site or search engine use a navigation menu to orient themselves. This gives business owners a great opportunity to decide how to present your navigation so that you inspire visitors to visit your best pages that convert to a sale and win over a customer.

Always check the quality of the HTML code before you submit your navigation page for publication, because poorly-written HTML can frustrate your visitors and make them go to a competitor's site instead.

Check all of your links in your navigation menu and make sure they all work, and analyze the menu itself to see if it is legible and user-friendly, even to those who may not be as tech-savvy as others.

Types of website navigation menus

There are many types of navigation menus, including top horizontal, dropdown, hamburger navigation, and vertical side navigation. Each one serves its own purpose and can be just as effective as the others, depending upon the type of website you are creating and the design and user interface.

Top horizontal navigation menu

Top horizontal navigation has a menu that usually spans across the top of the page with links to all of the different pages on the site. If you want your site to allow equal access to all pages, this might be the most practical for you. Just keep in mind that, while having easy access to all pages across the board is good, it may be more difficult to funnel users to the pages you want them to visit using this method.

This is why many website creators and business owners are opting for the minimalist automatic scroll web pages, because you get to lead the visitor through your website and direct them to the pages you want them to land on, rather than ones they choose.

There are advantages and disadvantages to both, but most visitors are going to prefer to navigate your site in their own way and in their own time and rather than being forced to go to the sales page. Perhaps they are there for information and are not ready to purchase yet. Using a system that is so highly automated may frustrate a customer who is just on your site for information and you may miss an opportunity to influence them to purchase later.

Gone are the days of the fast sale. You need to win your visitor over first and let them view you as a friend, someone who is interested in helping them first. Then you can provide links for them to purchase when they are ready.

Dropdown navigation menu

The dropdown menu includes a list of various choices that a customer can select. You see this more often within the shopping part of a site, where you can navigate through products and services based on different categories and criteria. But a dropdown navigation menu is often used on homepages as well, as it allows visitors to quickly view the different pages your site has to offer.

Hamburger navigation menu

This type of navigation is seen on mobile device software, so using this type of navigation may increase the UI experience for mobile users. It is also used for shoppers using a desktop or Mac and presents itself with three horizontal lines in the upper right-hand corner. When users click this, they will automatically see a menu of options they can select to navigate to a specific page.

Vertical side navigation bar

With the vertical side bar, you have all of the pages on your site listed in a neat order, depending perhaps on the level of importance. Some thought should go into the order of this, however, since people tend to choose one of the first 5 options they see most of the time and may not look all the way down your menu.

A great strategy is to list the options you want visitors to click in order of importance. That way, you can direct them where you want them to go without them feeling the pressure of being led along to the sales page.

Adding a navigation menu to your website

If you're not familiar with web design, adding a menu to your site might seem a bit complicated. Fortunately, most website building services have tools available that can help you add a navigation menu in just a few clicks. Keep in mind, however, that you may need to have some familiarity with HTML if you'd like a navigation bar that's completely customized to meet the specific needs of your site or business.

If you haven't built a website for your business just yet, Mailchimp can help. With Mailchimp, you can quickly and easily claim a domain, design a site, and even create an online store where visitors can browse and make purchases. Once your website and online store are set up, you can add new pages and choose how they appear in your site's navigation menu.

Final notes

Navigation menus impact the way people behave on your site, so it's important to approach navigation in a thoughtful, strategic manner. Expert web designers say that even the smallest change in your menu and on your website can make a huge difference in revenue.

Remember these tips to create the most effective web navigation for your site:

  • Consider what is most important to the customer.
  • Consider where you want your customer to go on your site.
  • Offer them the best of both worlds so that they see what you want them to see without feeling like they are being led.
  • Think about which type of navigation works best for your website.
  • Choose an attractive color scheme that will complement your website colors and create a positive user experience.

If you're ready to start designing the site you've always wanted, consider Mailchimp. With Mailchimp, you can set up a website and online store, as well as gain access to all of the tools you need to market your business. From running email marketing campaigns to creating digital ads, you can do it all with Mailchimp.

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