Our latest e-book – “The Big Book of Navigation Tips” – is now available for download from our website. We crafted the tips, taken from our many years of experience in guiding clients in search and navigation best practices, to help others in the industry understand how simple tweaks in navigation can significantly improve site usability. Similar to the “Big Book of Site Search Tips” we offered last year (and which is still available on our site), we wanted to shed light on the challenges site owners face in presenting content and information in a visually appealing way, while also guiding visitors to the items they’re most interested in. As we discuss in the book, good navigation is an art rather than a science – and while there are no black and white answers to how to approach particular elements, there are guidelines you can follow to understand what might work best on your site. Ultimately, as we discuss in the book, whatever approach you take, it’s important to do some testing to see if you’re really getting most value or if something else might work better.
Over the next several weeks we’ll post a couple tips from the book here on our blog, so be sure to check back frequently. To get us started, below are the first tips from the “Site Navigation Design” category. If you’re interested in seeing all the tips at once, just go to our download page.
Make site search and site navigation consistent
Visitors should only have to learn one interface, so keep the feel of the site search and site navigation similar to ensure a seamless browsing experience across your site. Too many retailers use different practices for site search and site navigation pages, resulting in different designs visitors have to learn to find the information they’re looking for.
Provide different ways of ranking products on navigation pages
You should offer your visitors a way to easily reorder the products they see on a navigation page. Even though they might choose to rank by least expensive, best rated, or most recent, you should propose a default display that is most advantageous to your business – for example, the most used default options are “Most Relevant” or “Most Popular.” You should then allow visitors to reorder by options they prefer, such as best sellers, most expensive, most clicked on, newest, or highest rated. These options should be featured at the top of the navigation page. Once visitors pick a new order, you should remember their preference, to avoid frustrating them, and cause potential site abandonment.
Allow visitors to navigate throughout your site from any page.
This may sound obvious, but visitors may enter your site in different ways: from an Internet search engine, directly from your homepage, from special offers or ads on another website or from a link on a blog. It’s important to show visitors where they have landed on your site, and allow them to navigate to other pages without having to start on your homepage, no matter which page they land on. Once they’re on your site, provide a navigation bar and include it on all the pages so visitors can easily browse from page to page.