In the name of creating an excellent user experience, you may be tempted to list every one of your site pages in your website menu. Surely, this would make for more straightforward navigation, right?
By doing this, you’re helping visitors get precisely where they want to be – no muss, no fuss.
However, too many options here could be hindering rather than helping your UX as well as boosting your bounce rates. Why? Simply put, website users hate long lists, especially when accessing them from smaller-screened mobile devices.
Short and simple is best. Having essential information easily accessible while keeping other bits tucked away keeps your website looking clean, crisp, and ultra user-friendly. It also makes it easier for search engines to index – great news for your SEO!
So, what should be included in your website menu, and what can you leave out?
Let’s take a closer look:
What Exactly is a Website Menu and Why is it Important?
Your website menu, navigation bar, or sitemap is essentially the entryway to your website. It’s a series of links to various internal pages that enable users to effortlessly browse the contents of your site. When done well, visitors can see at a glance exactly what your website is about. When done poorly, it can send them off running to a competitor.
Often the website menu is displayed across the top of the homepage, with the links listed horizontally. However, there are other possible display options depending on the type and style of your website, as well as its responsive breakpoints, that will work just as well.
- Sidebar menu – like the classic menu but with links listed vertically to the side of the screen
- Sticky menu – this menu remains visible and in a fixed position as the user scrolls down
- Hamburger menu – the three lines that opens up to a side menu or navigation drawer
Links to Include in Your Website Menu
Design and UX rules alike dictate that you should have between three and six items in your website menu based on the overall amount of content you have on your site. The ones you choose to include will heavily depend on the reasons your users are visiting in the first place. This will naturally be based on the specifics of your business.
If you offer products or services, links to where users can order these are vital. However, the greater the range, the better it is to divide these into specific categories. Take, for instance, an online clothing store with items designed for men, women, and children. You would want to include each of these as menu items for ease of use.
Drop-down menus are perfect for brands with an even wider variety of purchasing options. A DIY store, for instance, might offer products for painting and decorating, electrical and lighting, and heating and plumbing. For ease of location, a drop-down menu would further break these down into indoor/outdoor paint, power tools, storage, etc.
Keep in mind, though, that purchasing goods or services is not the sole reason someone might visit your site. They may be trying to track down your brick-and-mortar locations, seeking some advice, have a question about your stock, or want to register for subscriptions, members, and special offers. All of this should be covered in your sitemap.
Many companies run into issues here because they have simply got more pages than they actually need. Things like opening times, contact information (if they are simply using a telephone number and/or email address), maps to a single location, available products (if few in number), and company information could be placed right there on the homepage.
Ordering and Labelling Is Vital
Creativity is great in website design, but when it comes to matters of navigation, it’s best to stick to tried and tested methods that save your visitors time and effort. For instance, aim to keep your website menu in a typical position – at the top or to the left side of the page. This stops users from having to hunt it down before they can even get started.
There are also certain conventions in place for the ordering of items based on the idea that people tend to see those positioned first and last before ones placed in the middle. Most websites will have products or services for sale in prime first position and contact information at the end, these being the two main reasons for a site visit.
Beyond that, you want to pick short, concise, accurate, self-explanatory names for your links or drop-down menus. A single word is usually best to prevent any issues with viewing your navigation bar on mobile devices. For example, ‘locations’ is preferable to ‘where to find us.’ The meaning is clear enough for site users.
Calls to action in your website menu are excellent for attracting user attention and providing vital shortcuts to high-demand destinations. For instance, a restaurant might include a ‘book a table’ button, a medical practitioner could have ‘make an appointment,’ or a company providing a comprehensive range of services may opt for ‘get in touch.’ Either way, the user can get just what they want with a single click of the mouse.
Optimized navigation is a vital part of a website’s UX and SEO. If you’re looking to take your online business presence to the next level, get in touch to find out the cost of building your website with Firon Marketing.