The nav bar (navigation bar) on your website is one of the most important pieces of website real estate that you can provide to your users. Not only is it exactly where they will consume and engage with your company through your website, it is where you can encourage them to increase session time, duration rate and overall engagement to learn more about your business and move down the path to contact your company.
When it comes to navigation bars, little things truly make a great difference. Navigation can have a great impact on overall traffic and conversions. Traffic, meaning how high you will rank and how much traffic you will obtain from search, and conversions, meaning how many visitors will convert into leads and potential customers.
To make a truly great navigation bar and give your users the experience they need (and deserve!) it’s important to follow a series of best practices. These best practices could help increase traffic engagement, therefore increasing revenue for your business.
1. Keep it simple.
There is no need to confuse users with a navigation bar that is difficult to maneuver through and explore. Your navigation should include the following links and information:
About (or company story)
Services/Solutions/What We Do
Contact/Connect With Us
There are other sources of information that you might feel inclined to include depending on the nature of your business or the industry you work in, those these are the basics and structure that one should follow.
Consider sticky navigation, which has shown to decrease bounce rate in some studies.
Source: Leonard Bergel – DeviantArt
2. Be very concise.
Description is everything! As above, you can see that we have kept the bullet point examples very clear and concise. We suggest that you do the same when developing your navigation bar. Descriptions can truly make or break the engagement of your website. For example, if you land on a website for a home based cleaning service, for example, and their navigation bar does not clearly display where the Contact page can be found, how long would you stay on a site to discover where you can contact your preferred vendor? Being concise can allow you to increase pages per session and retain visitors.
3. Avoid the drop downs.
As much as drop down menus can allow for more space to tell your story or provide different pages to your visitors, they are not the greatest solution for your visitors for two particular reasons –
First, they aren’t great for search engines to crawl for content. If you do use a drop down menu, it is important for your development company and SEO expert to collaborate in developing a SEO solution for you.
Second, they’re not ideal for visitors. It has been studied and tested that drop down menus can be annoying for visitors of your website, with research found here. The hypothesis is that visitors move their eyes quickly, so moving through menu options can act as a hiccup in their overall decision making process.
4. Keep your house in order.
Everyone loves a clean house, don’t they?
The number of menu items on your nav bar matters, as does the order in which it is displayed in.
Items at the beginning and the end are most effective in any form of list (like a grocery list!) so this should be where the most important items are held. This is why our ‘concise’ list has suggested the Home Page and the Contact page.
5. Keep it consistent on mobile devices
Optimizing for mobile devices is every so important, yet it is also important to keep your website consistent across platforms, just like mobile devices.
If you see a navigation bar on your desktop, it best be the same on mobile.
Hidden navigation is standard amongst website designs, though this means that adding something like ‘menu’ to such navigation, or including a very clear and concise bar to pull from can help visitors navigate through mobile.
Be sure to do plenty of testing for mobile optimization, and don’t be afraid to test amongst your department or small subset of your company. Obtaining their feedback on consistency across mobile and desktop is essential when unveiling to your larger audience.
When it comes to strategizing, designing and deploying your navigation bar on your website, it is important to follow a set of best practices in order to deliver the best possible user experience for your website. The user experience across desktop and mobile should be flawless, which makes the navigation bar an area to certainly pay attention to. When developing your next website, or perhaps dreaming of update and additions to your current website, be sure to take into consideration how the navigation bar can impact overall user experience.