in Misc

UX Flow: 4 ways to better your website navigation

UX flow is defined as the actions a user goes through on a website, which are led by a UX designer. When UX design guides the user through a process in a specific way, we call it a flow. Onboardings, as well as sign-ups, are pretty obvious flows as they entail a few substantial steps to one clear goal, but the most crucial component that gets users to flow through a website is navigation.
Navigation offers users a map of a website and directions, and it’s usually what gets them deeper into the website experience. While navigation is just a term used to describe this process, navigation does more than only direct web visitors: it’s usually the vehicle that takes users where they want to go and helps them find what they need. And because the navigation of your website has to be perfect in order to turn those leads into customers, we’ve gathered a few ideas and examples on what you should do with your website’s menu.

What makes a good website navigation? 

You’d never go on a hike for hours in dense woods without knowing where you’re heading. The same things go for websites too. A website’s navigation system acts like a road map to all different information and areas contained within the website. If it’s clear, easy to follow and understand, people will stay and have a great experience, which eventually will lead to more business for you. However, do keep in mind that there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all strategy. Although, when building your website, you should bear in mind three factors:

– Your business
– Your goals
– And your audience

All these elements will impact your strategy, which is basically how you are going to get visitors to engage you. Always ask yourself: “What experience do you want your users to have? “Then use this information to shape and develop your navigation.

1. Be descriptive 

Because words like “products” or “what we do”, “services” and “solutions” do not really say what your business does, you need descriptive navigation keyphrases. Why is descriptive navigation better?

Descriptive labels are essential for search engines

Your website’s navigation bar is a key place relevant to search engines like Google. As your navigation appears on each page of your website, these descriptive labels will show Google that you are truly into that topic.

Descriptive labels in navigation are necessary for your visitors

Always use your main navigation as a point to start telling search engines and visitors about your business. Also, make sure you research top-of-mind phrases and popular keyphrases. Moreover, it is worth knowing that if you keep a one-page listing of all of your products or services, that page will never rank. Why? Because it is not aiming at one main topic. And, as we previously mentioned, a website is likely to rank when it’s focused on the sole topic with a key phrase.

And because no one is googling “services” or “products”, such labels will never work for your ranking. Any website design agency will tell you that both your website architecture and navigation are key for SEO. When we refer to a website as ‘search-optimized website’, that means it contains a page for every product, service topic, and team member, and most importantly, that page avoids using a “services” page as long as it doesn’t link to another search optimized page for other services.

2. Avoid format-based navigation

Navigation labels such as “photos” and “videos” tell people nothing relevant about the topic, only about the format of your content. Again, visitors won’t go on a certain website seeking whitepapers or videos. Pretty much like you, when you visit a website, you are looking for relevant information and answers.

3. Avoid drop-down menus

Drop-downs are very popular, but they aren’t really a great idea. Why is it better to avoid drop-down menus?
– It is better for the search engines: It goes without saying that drop-down menus are difficult for a search engine to crawl and index. And, depending on how they are programmed, they may lead to complications.
– Avoiding drop-down menus is better for your visitor: As numerous usability studies have shown, drop-down menus can be annoying for some people. Making visitors experience a drop-down menu to enter state abbreviation is one of the many inconveniences which eventually leads to a less effective, and less bearable user experience. 

4. Curb the number of menu items to seven

Lots of websites have hundreds of links on their homepage, which can be detrimental to the user experience. Reducing the number of links on your homepage is better:
– Only a few items in your navigation are good for Google
Other sites having links to your homepage, not your interior pages, make it visible for search engines. And, in turn, this authority flows down to other pages through consistent and facile navigation.
Usually, when a homepage uses tons of links, this may weaken the authority passed from it to deeper pages, decreasing their chances to rank.
– Not every item in your navigation is good for visitors

A recent study has shown that even though the human brain relies on “chunking” to have a better short-term memory, the number of chunks may depend on the category. So, it can be seven for a number and only five for words.

That being said, the more items you choose to have in your navigation, the more difficult it gets for visitors to remember and process it. Having eight items is way more than seven, but if you need more than seven, make sure you break them into groups.

By eliminating usability catastrophes, you will reduce annoyances and increase customer experience and user loyalty. That, in turn, will skyrocket your customer satisfaction, add value, and improve the image of your company’s website.

 

Bogdan

Bogdan is the founder of Top Design Magazine. You can find him in Bucharest-Romania so next time you want to drink a beer there and talk about web and stuff, give him a message.