One of the most important aspects of a modern website is its navigational quality. Even a website that looks beautiful can struggle to attract and retain visitors if it isn’t also easy to use. For that matter, a site that is unusually valuable in what it offers can also struggle if it’s not easily navigable. As one write-up on this topic put it, you’d never go on a hike without a compass or a map. So, it follows, why would you stick with a website on which you can’t tell how to get around?
Given all of this, we wanted to take some time to discuss solutions, and identify four ways you can make your site easier for visitors to navigate (with a few examples along the way).
Make Everything Clickable
Okay, not everything on the site has to be clickable. But what you want to avoid is having anything that looks like it ought to lead somewhere fail to do so. For instance, imagine you’re selling a product and the listing for it includes a title, an image, a brief description, and a price or a “buy now” or “add to cart” option. While those last options can call out to visitors, some people considering this product might try to click on its image, title, or description as well.
If that doesn’t work, they might then assume that the product is unavailable or that the site is not functioning correctly. This is effectively a navigation issue and speaks to why everything that seems clickable needs to be. Going back to this specific example, a click on the image, title, or description should lead either to a buying option or to a fuller, more detailed page about the product.
Employ A Smart Chatbot
Chatbots earned something of a negative reputation when they first became popular, simply because people preferred to talk to living counterparts. Now, however, several bots have reached a much higher level of intelligence, and can thus be invaluable components of a website.
One example that stands out and which many people will have used at one point or another is Bold360, and an AI chat platform in use at Edible Arrangements and several other popular stores and sites online.
Using the Edible Arrangements example you can see that this chat system is easy to access (an icon in the bottom-right corner of the screen leads the way), and once obtained it can handle any basic questions a visitor might have about the site, its products or services, or even purchasing options. In a sense, a bot like this can necessarily make up for any navigational shortcomings a site may otherwise have.
Make The Site’s Core Purpose Visible
Once you get this idea in your head, you’ll start noticing how many sites fall short of it. Consider a site like Footaction, for instance. It’s a reasonably fashionable footwear and style brand with a primary focus – as its very name implies – on shoes. These days its site tends to display giant advertisements for articles of clothing or clothing brands, keeping the pumps from being front and center (and thus presenting a navigation challenge, if only a small one).
By contrast, we’ll look to one of the more straightforward sites on the web in this regard: Football Scores. This UK site is an accessible resource for scores and stats from football leagues all over the world, and as such its homepage offers a clear, updated list of the latest scores.
In other words, the very thing visitors are looking for when they visit the site is presented to them immediately. Now, not every website has such a narrow, specific focus – but the core purpose should be similarly visible when possible.
Audition Your Site
Perhaps more important than any particular tip, at least before you launch your site, is auditioning it – which is to say, having some friends or colleagues give it a look. If you’re designing a website, chances are you find it reasonably easy to navigate.
But this could be a bit like knowing the way out of a maze you built yourself. Having others test your site can bring issues to light that you may not be aware of, and thereby present you with the problems you need to solve as relates to navigation.