How to Navigate Your Audience Through Your Website

January 13, 2016

4:00 pm

The average person spends somewhere between 10 to 20 seconds on a webpage before they decide whether that page is where they want to be. That’s less than the amount of time it’ll take you to read the next couple paragraphs. If visitors can’t find what they’re looking for in that brief under 20-second window, most will back out and find a site where it actually is easy to find what they’re looking for.

You can see where we’re going here, right? Getting a potential customer to land on your website is already a victory (one that probably took some SEO effort/investment on your part); a victory that possibly makes you another sale, and possibly provides you with another loyal customer that will keep buying your products/services again and again and again. Such returning customers are, of course, vital to your business’s success.

That’s why it’s such a shame for a visitor to be turned away from your site by poor navigability – you’ll lose that sale/potential loyal customer, likely to one of your local competitors that places somewhere else on the search rankings. And to think, all it would have taken to keep that customer buying from you rather than a competitor is a more navigable website.

What to Do

So, we know why making your website easy to navigate is necessary – the question now is, how do you do it?

Your average web design course will takes about 4 years to complete, so we’re not going to be able to fit all that content into this piece. Professional agencies can be expensive but generally offer some much needed guidance.  There’s plenty of great firms out there such as these New York web design services companies that have a superior understanding of how users peruse the content of your website. That said, there are a few quick tricks that can help you immediately improve the navigability of your website:

Keep It Simple

Content is good. Too much content, all in the same place…not so much. The number 1 rule of easy website navigation is to not try to fit too much on any single page – especially not the home page.

Clutter is intimidating to visitors. When a potential customer visits your website and finds everything crammed into one page, rather than parse through that mess to find what they need they’re more likely to go back and seek out a more streamlined site. Who has time to find the needle in the haystack when there are other companies that basically do the same thing to you do.

Hit the Sweet Spot with Your Navigation Bar (Not Too Few Buttons, Not Too Many Buttons)

The best way to eliminate clutter is to take that overwhelming amount of content and put the majority of it on separate pages, accessible from your home page from a navigation bar.

But you don’t want to just move clutter from one place to another. That is to say, don’t clutter your navigation bar with too many buttons. Too few buttons looks a little silly, though. We recommend somewhere between 6 to 12 buttons.

Pay Attention to the Analytics

Don’t put the cart before the horse. Deciding how your website is going to look is certainly more exciting than looking at a bunch of stats and customer experience reports, but that analytical information is incredibly helpful when it comes to building a website that best caters to your average customer’s needs.

For example, knowing that people spend more time on a given page than others shows that such pages should be emphasized over pages that don’t get a lot of attention. Conversely, if a page isn’t getting a lot of views, then you know you can focus on other content rather than that. Eliminating what customers don’t care about and focusing on what they do care about provide you with a significant competitive advantage.

What Not to Do

Drop Down Menus

Okay, so we get the logic here – if you can’t have too many navigation buttons, then maybe you can make the most out of any given button by making it, instead of…

No. Don’t do that.

Yet again, that’s clutter. Yet again, clutter is the enemy. Drop down menus are just too much- see if there’s a way in which you can a combine or cut out pages in order to hit that 6 – 16 navigation button range we mentioned earlier.

Generic Page Names

Yes, you offer products or services, but that doesn’t mean that you should label your navigation buttons “Products” or “Services”.

In fact, you shouldn’t do that. It looks lazy, which they very well might have been, (and often does) inspire visitors to go back to the search results and see if they can find a site that is willing to be detailed, which makes competitors appear more knowledgeable in your field than you are.

Broken Links

We saved most-obvious for last – broken links are simply unacceptable.

Indeed, that seems obvious, but you’d be surprised by the number of business websites out there that either don’t know or don’t care that there are links that go nowhere on their site.

This is unacceptable, as broken links make you appear unprofessional (and if you don’t bother to fix broken links than you indeed are acting unprofessional), and it’s a surefire way to drive potential customers to competitor’s sites. .

If word spreads that your competitors are more knowledgeable about what you do than you are, chances are you won’t be in business much longer.

All you need to do is be a little more specific to convince visitors that you’re serious. For example, if you’re a dentist, you of course offer “Services” – but that general category should be broken down into more specialized categories like Dental Implants, Cosmetic Dentistry, Crowns, Bridges, etc. The more specific your navigation button labels, the more you sound like an authority in your field.

Just by following these few simple tips about what and what not to do with your website, you can make your website much easier to navigate, which in turn will lead to more sales, more loyal customers, and more profits.

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Ayrald Hubert is a Senior Analyst at Clutch responsible for research and analysis of web design and digital marketing agencies. Ayrald is originally from France and regularly returns to his native country during the year. In his free time, he enjoys studying up on marine life and playing soccer with his friends. Ayrald's academic background includes a Bachelor's Degree from Georgetown University.

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