EXPLORING THE MAIN SECRETS OF WEBSITE DESIGN
Nowadays you can see various different types of navigation menus with interesting, creative and unusual web designs. The navigation menu on a website is like a road sign on a street or a level directory in a shopping mall. You cannot reach your destination without first knowing where you are. Like in real life, navigation in web design is very important and plays a major role in a website’s usability as well as in user experience.
Design navigation menu is the primary hint for the user to know about your site. After all, once the user gets lost, the cool dynamic effect and interesting content will be meaningless. Even if our site has a search function, the search box cannot be the only tool for the user to navigate. The navigation menu is one of the main factors to determine the usability of a site, and if visitors can easily find the content they are looking for without effort, they will be more likely to stay on your site instead of closing the page to leave. Effective website navigation menu design can help your site to increase page views, improve user experience, and even increase sales and profits (Mockplus.com).
Let’s have a look at the principles the web designer should keep in mind! It is time to start!
INDICATE WHERE YOU ARE
It is crucial to let the user know where he is at all times. You can do this by changing the link’s background, color of the page name or turn the text bold in the navigation menu to make it different from others.
Austin Eastciders uses a different color and background to indicate the page the user is on. This indicator can also work as a subtle design change, for example by using a different web navigation background which creates the feeling that other menu items are in depth.
Another example, Media Surgery uses a darker color as an indicator for an opened subpage. Simple, but effective.
COMMUNICATE THE CONTEXT
To be consistent with your content and navigation provide some context for website users to find things they need quickly. You can place small icons related to the content you link to or short descriptions to give an overview of what the page is about.
Sarah Parmenter uses short and nice captions under main navigation to provide some information about the subpages the main navigation is linking to.
TRY VERTICAL SLIDING NAVIGATION
According to CreativeBloq.com, Increasing numbers of websites are adopting the vertical navigation trend, and when it works it really works well. It’s particularly popular on portfolios or creative web agencies that push the boundaries of traditional web design.
The example above from AWARD is a fantastic case of using the vertical navigation while keeping it visible at all times. Icons link from the side so you can click an icon instead of the hamburger icon. It’s an experimental approach to navigation design but it can work on creative-oriented websites.
Why use this?
Only try this technique if you’re going for a full-screen layout that moves away from a traditional grid design. A working vertical navigation isn’t easy to create from scratch, and it’s tricky to get it working in responsive designs. However if you’re curious to experiment and willing to try new ideas then vertical navigations can be a refreshing twist.
WHY A GOOD NAVIGATION MENU MATTERS
Google likes consistent navigation. It is good to have consistent navigation not only for users to understand and get the idea of how to navigate through your website but also for search engines to index your website.
Search engine robots will crawl through your website in order to index your website and put the links in the search engine results page. If you want to be visible, pay attention to good navigation design and get more website traffic.
Often overlooked, your website’s navigation menu plays a key role in your web visitor’s experience, how well your website traffic converts into potential customers, and your website’s search engine rankings. A recent survey by Web.com notes a glaring disparity between consumers’ and small business owners’ perception of how well small businesses are executing their marketing on their websites and social media platforms. Of the small business “decision-makers” who were surveyed, 61% rated their websites positively, while only 46% of consumers shared the same view.
The navigation menu should be descriptively labeled to minimize the amount of work your visitors have to do to find information most relevant to them on your website. Use keywords that your target market is using to search for businesses in your industry.
Don’t label your pages “What We Do” or “Who We Are”. Users are looking for concise and specific terms that look familiar. Think about what your users are looking for, and what words would resonate with them. Have a look at ThriveHive’s navigation menu. Instead of using a generic label like “Our Services” we used “Marketing Solutions”. Instead of using a generic label like “About Us”, we used “What is ThriveHive”.
WHAT ELSE IS IMPORTANT TO KNOW?
One last area of the main navigation you should consider is adding a call-to-action. CTAs can be placed in either the main menu or up higher in the courtesy links. Using a CTA can help call out a very specific menu item that you want your visitors select, such as signing up for your service or requesting a consultation. A well laid out menu will help your website visitors understand what you do quickly and bring them to where they want to go easily.
For example, Mildren Events have a call-to-action added to their header menu. Consider it for your website too!
The call to action is a way to direct focus and give the visitor a clear route to accomplishing a goal. When developing call to action buttons, consider what you want the visitor to do: what your primary aim is, and how this fits in with their objectives. It might be to log them in, sign them up, complete a sale, ask them to contact you or join a mailing list. Whatever it is, you will probably want to drive a sale in some way.
Keep in mind: a call-to-action is not only essential for big web companies. The same holds true for any website.
The color of your call-to-action button really matters; it’s rooted in color psychology. Testing has revealed that green and orange buttons work well, but on some sites, purple outperforms both. Many corporate websites are blue, and orange is the opposite color, which may explain why orange works so well.
Green is the color of good luck and generosity, making it the ideal color choice if you’re trying to get someone to make a positive step.
As well as choosing the color for your call-to-action, make sure that the colors are consistent across the board. Consistency helps to anchor the visitor’s eye and establish a meaning for your call to action. It’s OK to use the call to action more than once on a page providing they are the same color. (You may want to repeat your call to action above and below the fold, for example, so the user always sees one on-screen) (WebsitetoolTester.com).
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