Simple Navigation Pointers
Posted by Adam Hayes
If users don't understand your website's navigation, you are losing sales.
Navigation is of huge importance to your website, so it shouldn't be just thrown onto the page. There are certain things users expect, and people are comfortable with things they are used to. For example, navigation is usually found on the top or the left of websites. Don't confuse customers by doing the unexpected (unless you have a good reason to).
People love being given choices. If you ask a friend what they want to do tonight, they may not have an answer. But, if you ask if they want to go to a movie or go out to eat, they are more likely to have a preference. Keep this in mind with your navigation. Put relevant keywords in your navigation links so it makes sense to your users. Most would rather have a navigation to use than have to come up with something on their own to type into a search box. If you do use a search box, however, try to make it work as well as possible. Users don't want to have to swim through pages of irrelevant results.
Keep your navigation consistent throughout the entire website. Users will get used to it and want it to be there. Don't take them to any pages without navigation; try to avoid links to images because the only way off of the page is the back button. Your navigation is there for a reason; try to make sure your users don't have to use the menu bar at all.
Embedded links (inside your main copy) keep your visitors moving in the direction you want. Make sure they take the customer where they are expecting. If a link's text says "pizza sauce", don't take them to a page about your employees (obviously). They should also be persuasive: if links take customers down a specific path, make sure they want to click on that link. However, during a checkout process, you don't want to distract from the main goal of the user. Try to avoid embedded links when nearing completion so that the customer finishes what they came to the website for.
There are many different navigation schemes that you can use on a website, and each has its good and its bad. Just remember that you want to make it easy on your customers so that they want to stick around.
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