Site navigation is the ability to navigate through its pages. The simpler and clearer the navigation system, the better it is for visitors, as it allows them to find the information they need and quickly navigate through various sections of the site. Perfect website structure will help you to improve SEO and perfect website navigation will help to improve user experience and conversion.
Let’s list the criteria for high-quality navigation:
- Simplicity. All menu or user interface elements should be easily visible and intuitive for any user. Ideally, the user should need no more than 3 clicks to access any page or section of the site.
- Accessibility on any site page. High-quality navigation elements should be present on each of the site pages, so that the user could move from any section to the one they want to access.
- Graphic design. Navigation elements should be contrasted with the background and differ from the main text, but at the same time be in harmony with the overall design of the resource.
A site’s fate largely depends on whether these parameters were observed when it was created, since a project with inconvinient navigation will not attract users. Convenient site navigation is a part of the work on usability – the convenience of using the site based on a number of key features.
Main types of site navigation
You don’t need to place all the elements listed below on your platform. You can choose those types of navigation that will be useful specifically to your resource:
- Linguistic – used on sites whose potential audience is multi-lingual. The user is asked to choose the most convenient language to display information. For the most part, this kind of navigation is implemented on the websites of various international organizations. Using linguistic navigation avoids the need to create multiple identical sites with content in different languages.
- Basic – links to the most important sections of the site are usually placed in the menu. Most resources are limited to this type alone, because it is suitable for small projects of several dozen pages.
- Advertising navigation – it includes links that are placed to attract customers to other resources or pages offering services or products. Such navigation can be both textual and graphic, depending on the designer’s intention.
- Thematical – this type of navigation includes links to thematically related sections. For example, similar publications on news sites. It can also be links under one article with the ability to go to the next or previous one. Photo galleries illustrate well an example of thematic navigation, most often with links under each photo that lead to the previous or following photos.
- Navigation in content is mainly used for internal site page re-linking for the purpose of better search engine optimization. It looks like a link in the text of the page, directing to another resource or another section.
- Indicative – shows the user in which part of the site he or she is at the moment. It is convenient for large portals and sites with many sections. This kind of navigation allows the user to easily navigate through a large amount of information.
- Geographic – used mainly for large sites or tourist portals, which need to clearly indicate the country, city or region that the section where the user is belongs to. This kind of navigation is usually combined with links to useful material about the country or tourist attraction.
- Search navigation – in this case, you can enter the information of interest in the search line (a word or a phrase), and the system will find the materials on the site with this letter combination. Some portals are not limited to searching only within their own platform, and simultaneously give the user information from the search engines on the issue of interest.
One or another type of navigation is selected based on the theme, site positioning, and the amount of information the site has. In some cases, the options are combined, if necessary, but usually the owners are limited to 1-2 types of the listed options. The need to use a specific type of navigation is dictated mainly by convenience for the visitor when searching for the necessary information.
By implementation type, all navigation can be divided into 4 types:
- Textual – links to site sections or to external resources are designed simply as text.
- Graphic – allows to present navigation in a more attractive format. Drawn menu items and buttons are used.
- HTML – using a variety of forms, you can hide a cumbersome menu so that it only appears when you move the cursor to the root folder. The use of such navigation allows to save substantial space on the page.
- Java and Flash technologies – this type of menu can be made more interactive, with certain effects coming up when hovering over or clicking on a link. This type of navigation is the most difficult to implement, but at the same time the most impressive in appearance.
The type of navigation that is most appropriate to the site objectives and tasks is chosen depending on the type of project being developed, which allows to achieve maximum convenience for the end user or to nudge them towards the necessary actions.
Convenient site navigation is one of the conditions for high conversion
A general assessment of site usability is performed in order to get the desired action from the user or to motivate them to go to the required page. All the points, starting from the selection of colors and ending with the size of the fonts, are considered. A significant role here is played by properly formed navigation.
It has already been proven that the number of people who will stay on the site, return to it again and add the link to his bookmarks after the visit depends on its navigational convenience. A well thought-out navigation system allows to retain the user and keep them interested, as well as to turn them into regular visitors of the site or its clients.