best practices for navigation design

Whn it comes to designing the navigation for your website it can seem a little overwhelming. Especially considering all the different options, plus the fact that you want yours to be unique but want it to be user-friendly. Here are some tips for good navigation design compiled from list by two sites blog.usabilla.com/5-expert-tips-for-improving-your-navigation-menu/ and http://www.hongkiat.com/blog/navigation-design-ideas-inspiration/.

  • Keep it Simple – Strip your site down to only the essentials and group them together in clear unconfusing categories. Users need to be able to find things on your site, by keeping your design simple you’ll keep users from leaving out of frustration. Test your content structure, as blog.usabilla.com points out “Not you, but your users need to be able to find content on your site. Ask them to help you structure your content in a logical way.”
  • Use Clear, User-Friendly Terms – Use terms/wording users are familiar with and avoid industry specific terms. If users have to click on a link to figure out where it goes it’s likely that they may not visit the site again.
  • Keep Your Design the Same On All Pages – This helps in keeping users from getting lost on your site. Changing the navigation on pages can even make users feeling like they’ve somehow wondered onto a different page.
  • Indicate Where You Are – Even though the last tips said not to change your navigation, you should change something that indicates to the user what page they are on. It’s just something small like the color of the navigation link on the current page or the background color of the active page’s link which Austin Eastciders did very well.
  • Keep Main Navigation at the Top – There are certain things that have become user conventions when navigating the web and finding your navigation at the top of the page is one of those things. Now depending on the design it could be to the left or right, but the user shouldn’t need to scroll down in order to the navigation.
  • Make it Visual – Especially if you’re finding it hard to word a category or are unsure of the best term, using an icon or image with or without any type maybe a good route. In general icons are easier to interpret. Here is an example of a site that combines simple icons to give users more information about what to expect on a page, My Own Bike.
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