Responsive Website Design—the art of creating a single website with a layout and features that adapt to the screen size of different browsing devices—is becoming more important as end users view web pages on mobile phones, tablets, TVs, and so on.
Developing and organizing your website content can be a daunting task. Depending on how large your site is, it can take a lot of preparation to pull all of your content together. Once you do that, you need to figure out on which page(s) all the content will reside. This is where your navigation comes into play.
Three seconds is the average time a visitor will give your page to learn what it’s about and what they’re expected to do. Fail this test, and your visitor will leave.so, here are some tips for responsive website design.
Calls to Action
The most important factor for CTAs is visibility — they should be noticed, without being too flashy. In fact, CTAs should be the among the first elements the user sees; after all, they are synonymous with business goals and therefore integral to the site.
Links to Everything
Give users more freedom to explore by linking most or all the site’s content. This allows them to go to new locations as they interact normally, instead of stopping their flow to figure out how to get there in the traditional navigation system.
This pattern is all about clickability — almost everything is interactive. This is popular for Wikipedia, where users can easily jump to another entry for clarification on the initial entry.
Make Your Logo Take a User Home
There’s a good chance your website has a logo in the upper left. Make sure your logo is clickable and takes a user back to your homepage. This is a common convention and many visitors to your website will expect it to be the case.
Such simple improvements to your website’s navigation can have an impact on the overall experience a user has on your website.
Use Dropdown Menus in Your Navigation
If the pages in your navigation have subpages, you should include drop-down menus. Dropdown menus allow users to scan the different types of content in each section of your website without unnecessarily clicking through the pages of your site. By getting a feel for the content in each section, a user can make a more informed prediction as to where the content they seek resides within your site.
Simplify Your Navigation Menu
Don’t overwhelm your visitor with a complex menu. Limit the number of web pages in the navigation menu to a maximum of 7 pages. Why seven? Short-term memory only holds seven items. If you have eight tabs in your navigation menu, visitors may overlook important information.
Sites should offer information quickly, with the fewest clicks. Concise navigation also optimizes your website for search engine rankings.
Use Location Indicators
Like with breadcrumbs, location indicators on the navigation help people orient themselves on the site, especially if they are deeper within the website. This clear visual indicator can indicate which section someone is in.
Consistency is one of the most important features of successful web navigation. You have to repeat the most important links on each page, always positioned in the same place/manner, serving the same purpose. Positioning the same menus in different locations could be too confusing for the users.
Include a Search Function
Search is one of the most important tools for e-commerce website navigation. It should always be included at or near the top of every page on a website.
Your navigation buttons should stand out from the rest of the content on your pages. If your navigation utilizes text that is the same size as the rest of the text on your site, it may get lost (visually) and the visitor may not see it. Of course, if your text is dressed with a background color or shape, that will help, but the navigation should always stand out. Making things easier for the visitor is always a good decision.
Utilize The Serial POSITION EFFECT
This enlightening study in psychology shows that people remember items the best when they are at the beginning or end of a list. Items in the middle had the worst recall statistics. Use the lessons of this study to decide the order of your menu items. The most important links should be placed at the front of the menu and at the end of the menu. This is why you see so many ‘Contact’ pages listed at the end of navigation bars.
It’s better to use keywords unique to your business as menu items than generalized titles that could apply to any website. This will also help your search engine optimization efforts. Generic labels don’t improve the user experience because they don’t make clear what you do.
Using sub-navigation can help break down your navigation choices into top-level groups. Once a visitor makes an initial selection, your website can use drop-down menus, scrolling panels, sidebar navigation, pop-over selection boxes or a number of UX tools to help guide a visitor to the right content. Don’t make the sub-navigation too complicated or you run risk of confounding a user. Sub-navigation ultimately allows for a website to break down navigation into a series of simple, bite-sized decisions.
Make sure you keep all the above points in mind while deciding on your website’s navigation capabilities. A clear and comprehensible navigation system is a key component to providing online visitors with a usable web-interface, one that keeps them engaged until they’ve achieved their purpose — and we’ve increased conversion rates rather than bounce rates.