Tips & Advice

Avoid These Costly Website Navigation Mistakes In 2021

Johnny McKenna

One of the first things a new visitor to your website sees is your menu navigation at the top of your home page. One of the best ways to decide what goes in your navigation is to try to look at it the way your potential customer does. What are they there for? You have seconds to capture their attention and keep them on your site. With that in mind, here are the best practices for website navigation along with mistakes to avoid.

Website Navigation Best practices for 2021

Keep SEO in mind.

SEO should always be on your mind when it comes to your website, but it also plays a role in what your top navigation looks like. Use clickable text and only use buttons for your call-to-action

Create for mobile.

How will your navigation feel on a mobile device? Will it be clear and easy to navigate or clunky and confusing? Don’t forget that half of the people using the internet are using it primarily through a mobile device.

Highlight the primary paths you want your customers to take. 

Things like: 

  • Specific services
  • Specific products
  • Classes
  • Shop by (specific category)
  • Menu – think food menu, not your site menu
  • Case Studies or Results or Happy Customers
  • Contact – only if your primary call to action isn’t contact
  • Blog/Videos – only if that’s a primary draw for your business
  • Features
  • Pricing
  • Resources 
  • Download – only if your primary call to action isn’t download

The order of your options matters.

Outside of your call-to-action, what is the primary content you want your website visitors to engage with? Is it your portfolio? Case studies? Dinner menu? Make sure you order your navigation in priority to your potential customers.

4 Mistakes To Avoid in Your Navigation:

Confusing insider language

Assuming someone knows the ins and outs of your business, including insider language, can feel like someone walking into a religious ceremony they are unaccustomed to. You don’t know what to say, when to say it, or how to participate. Using insider language pushes potential customers away as they feel confused.

Too many options

Hick’s law tells us the more options there are to choose between, the longer it takes for someone to choose. You have about 5 seconds to capture someone’s attention and pique their curiosity about your business. Don’t waste those seconds on multiple options that burn too many calories in your website visitor’s brain. 

Unnecessary information 

“What we do,” “who we are,” “about us,” and “our story” are all examples of potentially unnecessary items in your top navigation. Unless this information is critical to your business, like you’re a non-profit or an author, save these kinds of links for the footer.

Non-standard navigation placement

Don’t get creative with what has become the norm for site navigation. If you’re making your website visitors figure out how to browse your website, you’ll lose them quickly. We know it’s tempting to want to stand out or show your creativity, but there are better ways to showcase those things than to mess with the user experience.

Last updated March 2, 2021.