As a business owner you will know that having an online presence is crucial in this digital era. Having a great looking site is important but your customers won’t hang around for long if the navigation is awkward or confusing. Customers desire fast search results and clear, concise directions or you run the risk of them losing patience and then you lose the sale. Here are some useful tips for making sure your website is user friendly and working it’s best for you:
- Consistency – navigation must be consistent in both how and where information appears on your site. If the site is easy to use this will increase your visitors’ ability to find relevant information more quickly. If your navigation is always changing from page to page your visitors will lose their bearings and must reorient themselves. After a short period of time, they will simply give up.
- Clear division of categories – if your navigation contains multiple sections, categories or sub-categories then these must be clearly and visually defined. For example, category headings must be separated visually from the sub-categories, even if the categories are links themselves.
- Every image should have ALT text – This is important for images that link to other pages. Be sure to include the ALT attribute with descriptive text.
- Make sure all navigation tools are clickable links – When using multiple categorical divisions in your navigation, all heading elements should be clickable links.
- Be accurate with your navigation titles – Visitors should have a good idea of what they should find on a page even before clicking any navigational link. This is true whether it’s a main navigation link or an internal text link. Use accurate text to describe the linked page so visitors know what they’re going to get. Make sure all your link descriptions, whether textual or in an image, accurately represent the corresponding pages.
- Ensure your in-site search facility actually works – when using an in-site search feature, the search results page should always produce relevant results. It must allow for misspellings, show related items and even produce results for products that are linked if the searched item is unavailable. Search results that return a “no products found” message is incredibly frustrating and enough to lead to site abandonment.
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Have a look at other websites and see how they use their navigation. What works well and what doesn’t? Test out your site multiple times from the point of view of the end user and see how it feels. It might be the case that you need to make several adjustments before you are content with the site.
Customers don’t have much patience so you won’t have a second chance. Most spend less than a minute on a website and only read about 25% of what’s written on the page so if you don’t tell them in a really clear and concise manner, then they likely won’t take in anything useful about your business or service.