Good website navigation is so intuitive you never even think about it. Bad navigation you certainly notice, because it makes you work hard to get where you want to go. The trouble is, intuitive design takes careful thought. You’ve really got to predict your site’s visitors’ movements, and be ready for any effort they’ll make.
Not all website designers do, of course. Many – quite innocently, I must add – think not a bit about how people use websites. They don’t read reports, they don’t think critically about what confuses them whey they visit sites or they get a little too creative in their efforts.
I’ll be addressing usability in an upcoming e-seminar (there’s still time to register if you hurry – click here to do so) , but I wanted to share some common mistakes, in no particular order, in case you feel like frustrating your site visitors and driving traffic away:
- Use inconsistent navigation. Vary it from page to page. Sometimes put it on the top, sometimes put it on the side, and forget to add menu items here and there.
- Get cutesy with navigation. Rather than saying “Home,” “About Us” and “Services,” say “The Homestead,” “Meet the Gang” and “What Makes Us Tick.” It also helps if your audience is mostly English-speaking and you write your navigation in a foreign language with foreign characters – like Hebrew (you know who you are …).
- Don’t add a home link and assume everyone knows to click your logo to go back to the homepage.
- Put your navigation links in alphabetical order or order or length – anything but order of importance.
- Make pages open in new windows, thereby risking pop-up blocking software won’t allow that page to open and disabling your site visitor’s back button.
- Forget sub-navigation – put every single link on every single page.
- Put navigation at the bottom of the page or somewhere else “below the fold.”
- Give users multiple choices to perform one action. For instance, if you’re selling something, list three different places they can buy it.
- Use too many menus. At least three. In different places. With redundant choices.
- Don’t even use navigation – just put some links around the page.