We’ve seen a number of trends in site navigation come and go since the birth of the web. From splash pages in the 90s (see link for retro Space Jam website) to ‘mega’ drop-down menus, the history of web is, in part, a history of bad – if timely – design decisions.
Since the rise of the mobile web, site navigation and information architecture is more important than ever. With user attention spans in increasingly short supply, it’s vital that users are able to navigate your site quickly, efficiently, and find exactly what they want before they lose interest.
These are as much tips about what not to do as much as they are tips about what to do if you want to build an efficient, clean, easily navigable site.
Put your content on a pedestal
Content is what drives traffic, pure and simple. While you might get by on a well-designed, purely service-oriented site with Adwords and the like, Google is largely going to ignore you unless your site is generating regular, quality content alongside other SEO campaigns. Your content should be quality, easily accessible, and most importantly, plentiful.
Whether you run a blog or an integrated YouTube channel, your content is most likely going to be the reason the majority of users end up on your site in the first place. So make sure they can access it! This means lots of internal linking throughout, but also it means placing your content at the heart of your navigation strategy. Don’t bury the link to your blog in a drop-down within a drop-down and call it “News and updates”. It’s a blog. You need to make it very clear where this blog is and what it is.
Place your services front and centre
As we’ve just mentioned, content is your hook for traffic, and it’s vital to bringing in new users and readers. Having said that, though, chances are that you are running a business that has a website and you actually want to make some money off of said website.
If your site’s navigation is purely geared towards content, then many visitors might not know what services your business actually offers, or even what you do beyond writing a blog post they read. So it’s important to strike a balance between content and services when it comes to navigation.
You can do this in a number of ways. As you can see above this post, our navigation menu is geared entirely towards our services, so anyone who gets directed to the blog can immediately go straight to our service pages.
You can also pepper your content pages with references to your service pages. While good blog content should be value-oriented (not sale-oriented), you can also include a soft-sell type underneath the post saying something along the lines of “Interested in great icons? Check out our icon design here…!”
You get the picture. Don’t let your content overtake your services, but don’t make your content all about selling either. Or, as we’ll see in the next post, definitely don’t hide either under a mountain of drop-down menus.