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Are you making these common navigation mistakes?

Navigation around your site is one of the most important factors in whether or not your website will succeed.  Footfall to your site, conversions of traffic to sales, bounce rate and visitor satisfaction are all impacted by how the navigation of your site is set up.

Generic navigation menus

Try to avoid using generic links in your navigation menus; having ‘about us’ or ‘products’ does not define what your website is about, everything on your site should communicate what you do. The links should be indicate what you do, it makes your homepage much more informative, take a look at our freelance web designer Yorkshire homepage and see what I mean. In addition to this, the inks on your navigation menu will help you rank for keywords in Google, nobody is searching or just ‘products’ people will type in what they want, so why should that not be in your navigation bar? You should always have search engine optimisation in mind when designing your site structure.

Cluttered navigation menu

People tend to just scan the navigation menus, so having a lot of links increases the likelihood that they will scan past something important. In addition to this, when you delete something from the navigation menu, the rest of the links there become more prominent, or “louder”, ideally you do not want to be getting into double figures when writing your navigation links. The same can be applied to the rest of your page, the less content you have, the more the stuff you do have stands out – make everything fight for its place on the page.

In terms of search engine optimisation the fewer links in your navigation menu the better. Less clickable links on your homepage means that the pages further into your site will be more authoritative and be pushed further up Google. More links will dilute the other pages authority and they could become hidden away on a page nobody will get to on a search engine result.

Drop down menus

Drop down menus are difficult for search engines to crawl for keywords which mean any text put in there will not be ranked. They are also a source of annoyance for a visitor to your site, once they have put the mouse over the link they have already decided to click on it; they are then met with more options to click on, this interrupts their browsing experience. It sounds little it doesn’t really matter, but it is the little things that matter when optimising your website for ease of use. This is the reason we do not have drop down menus on our freelance web designer Bradford homepage.

Non standard style

Visitors to any website expect to see the navigation bar either vertically down the left hand side of the page or horizontally across the top of the page as in our freelance web designer Yorkshire site.  A standard style will make your navigation bar easier to find and easier to use, you do not want visitors looking for a link to navigate around your site.

It’s always good to be unique on your website, a trendsetter, but the navigation bar is not the place to do this. People won’t come back to your site just because you have a crazy new type of navigation bar, but they will not come back if they find it hard to get around your site. A little side note on this, it is always better to use a link based navigation bar as opposed to a button based one. Search engines cannot see the text so you will not rank for any keywords inside them. In addition to this, buttons take a notoriously long time to load – this is especially bad for mobile browsing.

Putting links in the wrong order

Psychology studies suggest that items which appear first and list in the list are more likely to be recalled than those in the middle, this is known as the ‘serial position effect’. This means that the most important links, or the links you want to push the most should be at the beginning, you should also put a contact link at the very bottom. The links that are less important should be put in the middle – again it all seems that it doesn’t really matter, it’s just a list, but all the little things will add up. If you don’t do it and your competitors do, they will have an edge over you.

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