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Nov 30

Tips On Designing Menus For Websites

The devil is in the detail and it is the little things which have the biggest impact. Think of a website, while most believe that the content decides the popularity, it is often the ignored details like the navigation menu which either makes it a winner.

Navigation influences website popularity in two ways:

  1. When the site is easy to use, it results in higher conversion rate
  2. Websites which are ranked higher have an efficient navigation system.

Popular Navigation Trends 

Before diving into tips on designing navigation menus, it is important to know trending designs. They are:

  • Bottom screen: While it is common to install the navigation menu at the top of the page, bottom placement coerces the user to scroll down to get to the next page. In the process, the content of the page, which would otherwise be overlooked, is glanced upon.
  • Animated: Animation was the most popular trend in 2015. It is still popular but can easily turn counter-productive when used in excess.
  • Full screen: Here, navigation menu is infused into the design. Such an approach can be lucrative for a website when the content is engaging. Detailing and design can either be subtle or focal. You, as a designer have struck the target, when the user assumes that the navigation tool is the main content.
  • No navigation: A suitable approach for small sites is ‘no navigation.’ Do not consider this approach when you have multiple sites.
  • No button navigation: What is the new style, you ask? It is text as a button. There are some trends which are skeptical, but are trending, none the less. Convert a simple, well-spaced text, as a line, either at the top of the page or bottom, into a navigation tool. Use this approach only when the page contains a full size image.
  • Page scroll navigation: Navigating through a single page is simple and does not need any obvious design cues. Users scroll up or down to find more content.

Now, that the types of navigation menus are elucidated, here are tips on how to get it right:

  1. Descriptive labels: Adding descriptive labels not only simplifies navigating through the website, it also improves SEO and conversion. Adding descriptive labels is a good strategy to indicate relevance to search engines. When there is a general Google search, the link to your website turns up if it has the matching keyword. Visitors find navigating easy when there is a descriptive message. Time is not wasted on visiting every other place than what is being searched for. Customers or visitors are the epicenter of the website popularity. Ensure that the website offers a positive experience. Refrain from using labels like ‘services’ or ‘products.’
  2. Ditch the format based tool: There are descriptive labels which specify the nature of the content without divulging the essence of it. You don’t want to make such an elementary mistake. Avoid labels like ‘wallpaper’, ‘videos’ or ‘photos.’ When a user is interested in a specific topic, they aren’t worried about the presentation so long as they get what they seek.
  3. Rule of 7: Limit the number of menu items to seven. Seven is not that large a number that it confuses the visitor neither is it brief to leave open ended questions. Ensure that navigation is concise. Use tools like ‘Link Juice Calculator’ to count the number of links. Also, this tool calculates the increase in authority when the link number is cut down. Consider a navigation which involves 50 items, each combined with a button and link. In the end, there are 200 pages, in total. Meaning that the authority required is divided between each of the 200 pages when the homepage is passed. Now, if the links is brought down by half, authority requirement is doubled, with a likeliness of increased ranking of the interior pages.
  4. Order is as important as content: Like any list, in a navigation menu, the items in the beginning and the end are the most important. A phenomenon known as the ‘serial position effect.’ Pick out the two most prominent options and place it at the beginning and the end. The first option must be what the visitor wants.
  5. Designing is only the beginning: The work of a designer does not end when the page is completed. It is important to revisit and evaluate the operation and effectiveness of the navigation tool. Remember, digital ink never runs dry. It is good practice to rely on Analytic tools to evaluate the efficiency of the navigation tool: is it attracting high traffic? Is the conversion rate high? What is the behavior of the visitor? Make necessary changes if the results are below expectations.

Design is an element of the creative field; therefore there are exceptions to every rule. The only way forward is by seeking help from the assessment of an Analytical tool and making necessary changes.

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