The navigation of your website is one of the most important elements in its design.   Good, intuitive website navigation will enable your visitors to find the information, products or services they are looking for quickly and easily.

Most of us will have seen websites featuring highly creative navigation but often simple is best.   Don’t get obsessive about being creative just for the sake of it.  Don’t forget your visitors are using your website for a purpose, not just to admire your creativity!  Their main reason for visiting your website will hopefully be to learn more about your company and your products and services.  Making it easy for your visitors to find the information they are looking for quickly is one of the main things you need to get right if you want to convert those visitors into paying customers.

Here are a couple of suggestions for you to check if your website navigation works effectively:

1.     Ask someone you know well to have a look at your website and do something on it (see below).   They should be unfamiliar your website, ideally they will not have visited it before.

If this is not an option for you then ask someone from within the company who has never visited the website (these people do exist) to try and do something on the website.  For example ask someone in the accounts department to try and buy one of your products online.  

If you do not sell online ask the person to look at your website to find out about a particular product or service you offer. 

In each case watch how the person goes about their task – if you see the person looking blankly at the screen, unsure of where to click next, it is a sure sign that your website navigation might be too complex for the average user.  Also time how long it takes them to complete their task – web users are not renowned for their patience! 

2.     Whilst the current vogue used by some website designers is not to show hyperlinks as underlined text, you might be surprised to learn that research has shown that most website users will not click on hyperlinked text unless it is underlined –  unless the text is underlined they do not register that it is a hyperlink to a new page! 

3.     Once your ‘test pilots’ have managed to navigate their way to a sub-page within your website, try asking them to navigate back to your Home page.  Most web user (research again, sorry!) will automatically scroll down to the bottom of the page they are on and expect to find ‘bottom navigation’ to the main website pages.  You should therefore make sure that your website has these important bottom links.  If it doesn’t , then add them. 

4.     We at WSI IMS work to our rule of ‘one click’ navigation – this basically means that your visitor should be able to get to any page from any other page in your website in just one click!  Can your visitors do this?

It is all about looking at your website from the users’ perspective.  If it is easy and enjoyable to use your visitors are likely to return time and time again.

Do you agree?  Please leave a comment below or visit WSI IMS – WSI Internet Marketing Services for UK Businesses.

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