How to structure your website navigation

Your website navigation menu is one of the most important elements of your website. It's key to your website's success as it's crucial for your visitors to help find what they are looking for. If your visitors can't find the information they want quickly they will leave which not only affects your search ranking but of course the ability for you to convert them into a lead or a sale!

Here's a checklist to work through to structure your website navigation for success.

1. Keep your website navigation in the standard format

Most website navigation buttons are structured across the top of the page. Users have become familiar with this so moving the navigation elsewhere can confuse users. Keep your menu at the top of the page!  It's common also for some sites to utilise a hamburger menu to the top left or right.

A hamburger menu is the 3 horizontal stacked lines that we’ve come to recognise (on the mobile) as meaning “menu”.... but should you use this on your desktop?

On mobile it's used predominantly as a space saver - it hides all of those navigational links so that they don't fill up the mobile screen. But on a desktop there is so much space, so why make it harder for your customer to find them?!
Only 52% of people over the age of 45 know what it is and THEY are likely using a desktop, rather than a mobile. So if this is your target market - they may be confused. So bear this in mind when designing your website navigation.
How to structure your website navigation

2. Don't overwhelm visitors with too many options

By limiting the number of options you initially display to visitors you can help them narrow down their choices and make better decisions.  Placing your most important content first will help it gain more visibility. Consider what action you want users to take and make this a priority in your top navigation structure.  See how Lan Farm Glamping below has kept its menu options limited but highlighted the action they want visitors to take with a book now button.

How to structure your website navigation

To help reduce visitor overwhelm your navigation options should be clear, well-placed, and few. For larger sites, you can "nest" options of lower importance under the umbrella of another in your navigation. It's quite common for other options to be revealed when you hover over the top level.

3. Use descriptive navigation labels

Descriptive navigation uses keyphrases in the menu. This is great for both search engines and communicating quickly with your visitors.  For example, on my website, I could have used the heading "Services" but this still doesn't describe to visitors what I do, they'd have to click to get a better idea, and in terms of search engines no one is searching for "services"

4. The order of your website navigation is important

In website navigation, just like any list, items at the beginning and the end are the most effective.  This is because items at the end and the beginning are more easily remembered.  So anything you put at the beginning or end of your website navigation becomes more prominent, so make these the most popular items or those that are the most important to your business.  With the Lan Farm Glamping example above "Glamping" is towards the beginning of the menu and to "book" is at the end.

How to structure your website navigation

The last thing you want to do when someone lands on your website is to send them to a different one instead! By placing your social media icons at the top of your website you are putting them in a place of prominence and inviting visitors to click on them and exit your site for somewhere else that does not give you the user's full attention. In fact, you are sending them to a place of competitors and distractions. The best pace for these is your website footer!

5. Keep Social Media icons out of the header

Hopefully, these tips give you new ideas and inspiration for your website navigation. You should be able to implement your ideas quickly in your content management system like WordPress. A good website is flexible, letting you adjust the names and order of your menus in minutes. If you'd like a new website or redesign get in touch.

If you found this helpful please share with others...

How to structure your website navigation for success
Scroll to Top