Every business wants a website that drives sales and encourages user engagement. Unfortunately, that’s often easier said than done. Problems can range from having too many calls to action and “click me!” buttons to using poorly contrasting colors.
Usually, bad website navigation mistakes are repeat offenders. If you think your website is a little confusing or difficult to explore, chances are, you’re already losing customers. Up to 94% of consumers say they want an easy-to-navigate website, and they’ll likely shop with someone else if yours isn’t.
Promoting better website designs is good for business and your brand’s reputation. Here are some tips to improve bad website navigation so you can set sail for success.
1. Start with a Consistent System
A functional, logical approach to website design is critical for improving navigation. Mapping your website into categories and subcategories above your landing page makes far more sense than crafting an overly long list of menu options.
Users don’t want to click back and forth between pages and sub-sections to find helpful information. They want a consistent organizational system that makes it simple to find exactly what they’re looking for in mere seconds.
When a customer visits a website, they typically look for a specific service or piece of information. A recent poll found that 62% of those surveyed thought having a “Contact Us” section was the most crucial element businesses can include on their websites.
Is your website’s contact page easy to access? Or is it hidden in the weeds of your site’s structure?
If crucial pages of your site are difficult to find due to bad website navigation, many customers will simply leave. You don’t want to lose customers just because your site is confusing, so think about re-organizing and streamlining now.
2. Consider a Different System for Mobile Sites
Today, mobile users account for 54.4% of all web traffic worldwide. Mobile web traffic actually surpassed desktop visitors back in 2015.
In 2019, smartphones accounted for 64% of all global eCommerce site visits. Mobile web traffic has consistently been around 50% since 2017, and it’s unlikely to ever drop below that number.
Your mobile site should be similar to your desktop site and offer the same level of experience. However, it would be shortsighted not to cater to the enormous demographic of mobile users with specific optimizations and mobile-friendly structures.
Consider features that conserve space on smaller screens, like drop-down menus and condensed pages. These are great solutions for optimizing your site for mobile users. You can replicate the desktop experience, but tweak it to suit the needs of mobile users.
3. Utilize Imagery Over Text
Out with blocks of text, in with eye-catching imagery. Large chunks of text can overwhelm users and cause them to miss the information they’re looking for, contributing to overall bad website navigation.
Imagery can be visually appealing, but it can also contribute to a smoother navigation experience for consumers. Pictures and graphics convey meaning faster than words do, and that’s important in a world with increasingly short attention spans.
It’s especially important to include photos of your products and services. Your brand’s value and offerings should be displayed front and center, and images are the best way to quickly convey important messages to your site’s visitors.
4. Incorporate a Smarter Search Feature
Search features are great tools to help steer users around your site. If you want to boost sales, you need visitors to find what they’re looking for as quickly as possible.
A prime example of bad website navigation is when the search function only shows results that identically match the user’s query. You need a smarter search feature that adjusts results based on:
- Potential misspellings
- Contextual clues
- Synonyms/similar search topics
For example, if a user’s search included the word “beach,” a good search tool will assess the context and bring up all beach-related items, such as sunglasses or snorkeling equipment (even if the word beach isn’t included in the product title).
If you’re not sure where to start with smart site searches, check out plug-ins such as Elastic or SearchWP. These will make your search features “smart” using advanced customization and robust analytics to carefully tailor results.
5. Offer Different Menus Based on Your Audience
Your audience members are your kings and queens – which means you need to modify your website’s design based on their needs, not just yours. That’s especially true if your site caters to two or more divergent audiences, such as wholesalers and ordinary run-of-the-mill customers.
An excellent way to do this: split your navigational menus into multiple categories. This lets both audiences easily view content designed for them, without getting confused or winding up on the wrong side of your website.
Offering multiple menus is an especially helpful tactic for content-heavy sites, like blogs. A great example of this strategy can be found on the IBM website blog. The company holds expertise in everything from artificial intelligence to business operations, which means it caters to a diverse audience with a range of different needs.
By featuring menus that take users directly to the kind of blog content they’re looking for, IBM can quickly funnel users to the right place, improving the overall site navigation and user experience.
6. Use Your Footer for Quick Links
Visitors likely need information from your site in a matter of minutes, if not seconds. If they’re in a hurry, they will likely scroll to the bottom of your homepage to find the link they need.
A smart idea could be to include the main links for your site at the bottom of the page. This lets users quickly access the main sections of your website without having to scroll back to the top.
To give you an idea, a visitor to your site might be scanning for information on how to contact customer service. When they reach the bottom of the webpage, they’ll likely spot the main link to customer service. They can then easily tap the link to be taken to customer service and resolve their issue.
Consider including bottom-of-the-page links to all of your key pages, such as:
- Contact us
- Location information
- Site map
- Product listings
Customers love it when all of the top links are included in one simple, easy-to-understand area. Why not make them as easy for them to find as possible?
7. Use Colors to Make Navigation Simple
Websites with bad website navigation often don’t use color well. Picking and implementing the right colors can significantly improve a user’s navigational experience if you do so wisely.
Color gives the visitor cues as they navigate the site. For example, using attention-grabbing colors can help users essentially identify essential sections of a webpage, such as contact buttons.
Blue is often considered the “safest” choice for websites, but don’t be afraid to make navigation clearer by delineating certain buttons with brighter, bolder colors. It’s hard for a customer to miss a strikingly orange button that says “sign up!” or something else important.
To Wrap It Up
It only takes 0.05 seconds for your customers to form a bad opinion about your website. That’s why getting website design right is crucial for your business. You want users to enjoy their time on your site, rather than leave feeling frustrated or confused.
Overall, improving your website’s navigational elements reduces bounce rates, keeps mobile customers engaged, and helps steer your customers maneuver around your website.
To learn more about the importance of website navigation, or to take your site to the next level, contact Ayokay. We’re a web design agency with purpose, and we’ll ensure we address all of your visitors’ top needs and desires.
Call 317-210-AYOK or reach out online. We’re happy to talk about improving your current website’s design, or building a new one from scratch.
Jack Shepler is a Marketing and Search Engine Optimization expert. He founded Ayokay, award-winning marketing, and web design firm in Indianapolis, Indiana that has built brands, increased sales for businesses, and helped nonprofit organizations fulfill their missions since 2011. He uses his decades of experience to educate through the Ayokay blog and through public speaking. You can follow him on LinkedIn.