With the right tweaks, you can actually outperform the competition, even if you’re late to the industry. Without proper navigation, however, your customers will be frustrated, confused, and choose your competitors. Imagine being lost in a maze with no map. Wouldn’t you leave the second you had the chance? The digital world is no different! Let’s take a look at some simple tips to integrate great navigation practices into your site.
1. Plan Your Pages and Navigation
Before you get started on your website, take some time to create a sitemap. Being able to see everything in one setting will help you start thinking about how to arrange your content into topics, ideas, and corresponding categories.
By planning first, you’ll gain an edge over your competitors, and can benefit from their mistakes. Use market research to gird your planning process, and provide your visitors with a positive navigation experience.
To do so, look into sitemap creator tools to quickly generate website navigation mockups. Tools like GlooMaps, Octopus, and VisualSitemaps will all assist in your creation of a stellar navigation experience.
2. Don’t Get Experimental
Unless your company is on the cutting edge of web navigation, there is no reason why you should divert from established concepts. Website navigation should focus more on usability, rather than creativity. Follow web design best practices, or audit other sites to develop your website’s visual language.
Moreover, maintain consistency once you have established your patterns and signs. Don’t try to experiment for experimentation’s sake, simply establish clean, clear paths for your users. Don’t waste time trying to come up with a diagonal navigation system, or a custom menu icon. Web visitors are delicate, and any friction in the purchasing cycle can cost you valuable sales!
3. Optimize for Mobile
We are now in the age of mobile-first development. Responsive design is a must. As you design for desktop, you must also make sure that you are creating designs for your visitors that are on their mobile devices as well.
Have you had to interact with a tiny menu? It’s difficult to click, read, or even use. Thankfully, Jumpseller’s designs are responsive out-of-the-box and demonstrate a range of mobile-optimized stores that offer easy, clean, modern navigation. ***
4. Maximize Your Navigation Menu
Navigation menus are simple, but are easy to overlook as a stand-out feature of most e-commerce sites. When looking for a site-partner, make sure your vendor offers site navigation capabilities, so that you don’t have to start from scratch.
Most people remember the first and last items in a list, so make sure your navigation menu has the most important information at the beginning and end. For example, start with “Products”, and end with “Purchase”. You want your customers completing actions, so make sure there is a distinct CTA in your Nav Menu!
5. Get the Most Out of Your Footer
If your readers are engaged, they will likely scroll to your footer. Don’t miss out on yet another excellent opportunity to re-engage users. In the footer, you can get more granular and highlight additional content that you might not have room for in the header menu. Take a look at ours, as a great example of a footer with just the right content.
Additionally, if your site has a complex layout or organization of topics, a footer can help bring everything up to the front for all to see in one place. A footer is the best place for a collection of links to all the important pages on your website, as long as it is organized–of course. Finally, a footer can help with SEO and presence in search engines. Just make sure to include the keywords in your footer!
6. Integrate Site Search
If you have a surplus of products, services, or content, you will want to build a site search function into your web property. It’s a great idea. Visitors who use site search are more likely to purchase from you, or act on your content.
All sorts of e-commerce sites use search functions, like IKEA, AirBnB, and Amazon. Take notes from these giants! Make sure to use the proper icon for indicating that you have this feature available, like a magnifying glass, as well as a search bar.
7. Different Audiences? Different Menus
Let’s say you have a product marketplace, and a reseller marketplace, like Amazon. You wouldn’t use the same navigation for both audiences, would you? If you answered no, take note: Amazon doesn’t!
By creating different navigation experiences for corresponding audiences, your potential customers have a more tailored experience, encouraging them to spend more time and browse. This has positive effects on your results in search as well. Speaking your customers’ language and creating experiences that echo their familiarity with different subjects can impact your business for the better in the long-run.
8. Use Design Principles for Segmentation
When laying out your design for your navigation, make sure that you use the right design principles and cues to distinctly separate navigation areas. If your users can’t find your navigation in the first place, you’re likely not going to benefit from any of the above.
Additionally, make sure that you are abiding by your country’s requirements for accessibility. Focusing on this is not only necessary for your impaired visitors, but also can be rewarding in Google!
The more user-centric your navigation is, the better your ROI will be. In addition to a solid content strategy, a strong navigation menu can help set your site apart, and bring in more visitors and buyers for conversions.