One of the things that new website owners focus on a lot is the top of page navigation (or tabs) on a website.
Instinctively they want to squeeze as many links into this space as possible.
This is usually a mistake.
The reason boils down to how visit website more and more. They arrive on one of their pages, scan it super fast and read or click on a link that attracts their attention and repeat as often as your pages and content keeps their attention.
A crowded navigation bar no matter how well designed is usually hard to read when people are at best looking for one or two pieces of information on your website.
The Purpose of A Navigation Bar
You, of course, want people to find important information on your site, keep them there and possibly even convince them to be a customer, follower or fan.
But links on your navigation bar are only one aspect of building an effective navigational structure. You can have navigation in lots of other even more valuable places. Like in a sidebar or internal links on a page.
Providing a clear pathway to more information that may help your visitor should not really be the sole responsibility of the top of your page.
The purpose of a navigation or tabs should be to show your 2-3 main areas of competence and what you want people to focus on. Yes, you may have 10 or 20 services that you deliver but it is confusing to try and squeeze them into one area on top of a page.
In addition analytics and research have proven that people just don’t click on them.
So increasing your tab density on top of a page is purely for vanity as it does not increase the clicks on those links despite what you might expect
Mobile Visits and Your Navigation
About 30-80% of website visits these days are from mobiles. It depends on your client base really. If your market tends to be office based then it is low, if mobile warriors it is high.
So having a navigation structure with lots and lots of links is of no benefit and on a mobile, it can be even more confusing and difficult to navigate.
People Visit Pages – Not Websites
You shouldn’t forget that people visit website pages and not websites particularly. They search for a topic find a page on your website and consume it and they may click on a link ON the page to read further.
Their eyes, minds and mouse will rarely look or click on the navigation up top of your page.
As web technology grows there is an abundance of dropdown, fly out, pop out and exploding menus that you can code into your website.
I always try and think of the lowest common denominator when it comes to site visitors. This isn’t a demeaning term it is just a reality. Most website and web users fall into this bracket from my experience.
- Busy and in a hurry.
- Don’t understand the technology of a flashy website.
- Are looking for their information,fun,news, or downloads.
- Quite happy to click back and go to another option of what they needed isn’t presented to them in the seconds they are mentally reserving for their site visit.
Do you think they are going to lovingly browse through your complex navigation structure?
Create Pages Not Navigation
My advice is to create great pages, not great navigation. Create a page that delivers exactly what a person wants. Not an audience but a person.