Website navigation is a critically important component for all kinds of websites. Whether it’s a simple single page website or it’s a huge interactive website with multiple pages, it should have smooth, comfortable and straightforward browsing pattern for its users. A user-friendly navigation enables websites to enhance usability and user experience for visitors.
It’s the navigation pattern of a website, which guides visitors to find things they are looking for. It’s like the road signs on the street, which are displayed to guide individuals about the location they are standing. Navigation in the website design plays the same role and create an encouraging environment, which helps users to explore the website smoothly. To sustain user interest, it has to be flawless and outstanding.
How visitors could will stay on the site possessing misleading links. They will eventually leave the website. To ensure that users will stay on the website and browse through the pages, it has to offer clear search menus for its users.
Here I am sharing few of the best practices to create user-friendly navigation to provide pleasant browsing experience, which will eventually increase the rate of conversion.
Prefer standard navigation templates, so your visitors will find it easy to focus on the content of the website. Don’t confuse them with complex browsing pattern and don’t stress them to think twice before proceeding within your website. Your aim should be to encourage visitors what your site possess to offer them.
This can be achieved after implementing coherent menu structures and navigation spots across the site. This will enable users to keep browsing the site spontaneously without questioning about the links to everything. For instance, if they feel they are lost, the surfing pattern of your website must always guide them to go back to the previous page or entry point from where they get to enter on your site.
Searching menus of the entire site should be integrated well in an organized manner so that it can only show secondary menus relevant to primary menu. Avoid confusing visitors after showing them a huge drop down menu containing all the links of your website.
This is essential for content heavy websites. If your site carries piles of content pages, it becomes your responsibility to facilitate them to explore the content conveniently. Whether they search it by a phrase or a relevant keyword, your website should be capable of showing them all the relevant articles, they might be interested to see. So place search bar prominently with a handy sidebar with suggested reading options.
With an aim to enhance the user experience, designers have come with an interesting solution to make website experience interactive. You must have seen single page website and promo pages with a range of animations and special effects in searching layout. The use of special effects and animation in navigation layout is called creative navigation style. Designers have integrated these elements not only to enhance user experience but also to increase the richness and interactivity for users.
However, you have to be very careful and cautious while picking a creative style for your website. In reality, traditional menu patterns are better due to simplicity and calmness. As users land on a site with an expectation to use it; when they visit a page loaded with weird graphical animations and hard to use navigation, they will leave the site and never come back.
This doesn’t mean to completely avoid using creative navigation style. In certain scenarios incorporating creativity in design becomes essential to satisfy user’s needs. For instance, in promotional websites, which are running online campaigns, advertisements, and portfolios, creative navigation is used to make site menus interactive. Simple list-style menus will look boring and fail to engage users.
In an activated form, 3D navigation slides in and replace the current content in a 3D space. This kind of pattern is suitable for secondary menus like product gallery and subsections in the service section. 3D effects are not appropriate for main menus. To highlight the active menu, designers implement CSS transformation to push the main content along the z-axis.
Speech balloons alternatively called as a speech bubble, dialogue balloons or word balloons are commonly used in most comic books and cartoons to incorporate words. Today, balloons/speech bubbles are also used in site menus to diversify conventional rectangular menus.
Sharp corners of boxes in the site menu bars are often replaced with rounded corners. Rounded corners can be used for the call to action buttons and menu items to entice users to click on them.
As internet bandwidth is no longer a concern for users, decorative and highly visual designs are high in demand. Nowadays, visually appealing icons are used even in website navigation menus creatively to entice users. When using these icons and visuals, you should not ignore the loading speed of the website. As speed has become the ranking factor on Google. Use them efficiently without affecting the responsiveness of design.
Use of irregular shapes is a good way to break the norm of sharp and soft corners. Amorphous shapes have become the latest design trend, which can be used to create visually interesting browsing layout to engage users.
Web designers always keep on trying new design tactics to make their designs innovative and aesthetically appealing for viewers. To implement the same, they quit using the standard list patterned menus. Instead, they use magazine-style browsing layout to maximize user involvement. Users will feel that they are flipping the magazine pages instead of searching the menu list.
Efficient website navigation is primarily important for the success of a website. It’s an art that doesn’t follow any rules and how-to guidelines. Designers can only learn it with experience.
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