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Navigation Tips for User-Friendly Websites

Navigation Tips for User-Friendly Websites

Thursday, October 21, 2010

It's a jungle out there, or at least it can be when you are lost on a website. Difficult navigation makes users feel frustrated and disappointed with your site, which can translate directly to how they feel about your organization. If you think your users are getting lost, here's how you can help them find their way.

Make every page welcoming.

Many people will find you through your home page, but some will get to your site via search engines, links from other sites and bookmarks. Make sure users can find your homepage from any page within the site, and can navigate throughout the site from any secondary page.

Give users what they want.

Too often we feature information WE want our users to know, instead of what THEY are actually seeking. If you provide the information users want, they will be satisfied. Don't make users hunt or click too many times to find pertinent information.

Organize your site by how your users think, not by how your organization is structured.

Think about your users and what actions they will take when they get to the site. What are they looking for? What do they need to do? Move those items to the top of the site. Organize the site by their needs, not yours.

Don't be clever, be clear.

Stick to obvious names like "news" or "donate" to avoid confusion.

Manage internal issues.

Many sites become cluttered and confusing because staff members pressure web managers to put too much content on the main page. Remember, content should be dictated by user needs, not staff requests. Work with your staff to help them understand where content goes on the site and why.

Divide and conquer.

It's okay to have meaty content on a site, just make it easy for people to read. Edit, edit, edit. Separate longer articles or content into separate pages. Divide articles into sections and use subheads, or create section anchors and jump links to help users move through the information easily. 

Maintain consistency.

Your site's background, colors, fonts, and navigation should all present a consistence appearance that supports your organization's brand. Consistent layout and navigation allows readers to adapt quickly to your site and to confidently predict the location of information across secondary pages.

Listen to your users.

If you are not using Google Analytics (it's free!) or another site-statistics tool, have your web developer install one. This can help you understand how people are getting to your site, how long they stay and what pages they visit.

Want to build a better website or improve the one you have?
501creative can help. Contact Karen to learn more.

Tags: websites