The Dos and Don’ts of Website Navigation Design

by | 9 Oct 2023

Website navigation is an essential aspect of web design. It helps users find their way around your site, access important information, and complete desired actions. However, designing effective navigation can be challenging, and it's easy to make mistakes that can frustrate and confuse your visitors. In this article, we'll explore the dos and don'ts of website navigation design to help you create a user-friendly and successful website. We'll discuss best practises for designing intuitive and efficient navigation menus, as well as common pitfalls to avoid.

Whether you’re designing a new website from scratch or revamping an existing one, these tips will help you create a navigation system that enhances the user experience and drives engagement.

The Dos

Keep it Simple

Simple navigation design is often the most effective. You don’t want to overwhelm your users with too many options or confusing layouts. A clear and concise navigation menu will make it easier for users to find what they’re looking for.

Use Familiar Navigation Patterns

Most users are accustomed to certain navigation patterns, such as a horizontal menu across the top of the page or a vertical menu on the left-hand side. Using these familiar patterns will make it easier for users to navigate your site.

Label Navigation Items Clearly

Make sure your navigation labels are clear and concise. Avoid using ambiguous language or acronyms that users may not understand. Label your menu items using common terms that your audience is familiar with.

Prioritise Important Pages

Ensure that your most important pages are easily accessible from the main navigation menu. These might include your home page, about page, and contact page.

Make it Easy to Find

Place your navigation menu in a prominent location, such as at the top of the page or in the header. Make sure it’s easily visible and accessible from every page on your site.

The Don’ts

Overcomplicate NavigationAvoid overcomplicating your navigation design by adding too many options or using confusing layouts. This can make it difficult for users to find what they’re looking for and can result in a poor user experience.

Use Ambiguous Navigation LabelsDon’t use ambiguous language or acronyms that your audience may not understand. Use clear and concise labels that accurately describe the content on the page.

Use Too Many SubmenusSubmenus can be useful for organizing content, but too many submenus can make it difficult for users to navigate your site. Try to keep your navigation structure as simple as possible.

Hide Navigation ElementsHiding navigation elements, such as menus or links, can make it difficult for users to find the content they’re looking for. Make sure all navigation elements are easily visible and accessible.

Ignore Mobile NavigationWith so many users accessing websites on mobile devices, it’s essential to ensure that your navigation design is optimised for mobile. Ignoring mobile navigation can result in a poor user experience and lost opportunities.

In Summary

Effective website navigation design is essential for ensuring a positive user experience. By following the dos and don’ts outlined in this article, you can create an intuitive and user-friendly navigation system that will help your users find what they’re looking for quickly and easily.

Remember to keep your design simple, use familiar navigation patterns, label navigation items clearly, prioritise important pages, and make it easy to find. Avoid overcomplicating navigation, using ambiguous labels, too many submenus, hidden navigation elements, and ignoring mobile navigation.

By following these tips and best practices, you can create a navigation design that enhances your website’s user experience and ultimately helps you achieve your goals.