Are you building your first website? Or maybe you’ve had a website for a long time and it’s time for a refresh.
Either way, pay special attention to the navigation menu, as the navigation menu can be the most important part of your website – even more important than the design.
A website navigation menu can be the most important element of your website because it is the main index or digital catalog that people will use to find content on your website. A navigation menu is often organized as a tool bar at the top of a website or on a sidebar, or as a drop-down navigation menu that nests topics under main categories.
Often times the website navigation menu gets overlooked as an important tool that requires strategy. Instead, it’s often a “dumping ground” for every page of your website.
Some people will argue that every page on your website should be listed in the navigation menu. But the main point is that you should spend time organizing your navigation menu so website visitors can easily find their way around your website.
4 Steps to Create a Successful Website Navigation Menu
1. Determine the goals of your website.
Ultimately, your website should reflect your business’ goals. The biggest piece of strategy to consider for your website is:
What do you want people to know or do as a result of visiting your website?
Every website is unique so your answer to this question will be unique as well. But your website visitors should be able to easily understand what you want them to do, and they should be able to easily access that information.
- If you run a website for non profit organization, you may want people to sign up to volunteer, or donate money to a fundraiser. If your main goal is for people to sign up to volunteer, add a big “volunteer” button on the navigation menu that is visible on all pages of your website.
- If you have an online store, you may want them to browse your online catalog and purchase at least one item.
- If you are a restaurant, you may want them to view the menu and call to book a reservation.
Whatever it is that you want visitors to know or do as a result of visiting your website, make sure that “action” is easy to find and easy to complete.
The Texas 4-H organization implemented this strategy by adding a “volunteer” button to the main navigation and a highlighted button for “Join Texas 4-H” so website visitors can quickly find the action to sign up to join or sign up to volunteer.
Consider writing the button text or navigation menu item as an action item such as ‘browse online catalog’, ‘shop online’, ‘sign up to volunteer’, or ‘donate today.’
2. Create an “about us” page
Every website should have an “about us” page for a few different reasons. First, people will use the “about us” page to learn more about your business, who you are, and what you do. Second, the “about us” page is important for your search engine ranking since the page will include an overview of your business with important search keywords.
Make sure you include important words or services that people would be searching for in order to find a business like yours. The “about us” page is often the longest page on a website, and gives you the biggest opportunity to maximize your chance for search engine ranking.
Your “about us” page should tell your story, establish credibility, showcase your work, and quickly review the services or products you offer. Click to read more about how to create an awesome about page for your website.
3. Create a “contact us” page
Every website should also have a “contact us” page. A contact us page is an easy way for people to find important information on how to reach you – either by email, phone, or a physical address.
Make sure that this information is cohesive across all of your online entities. For example, you should reference your physical address online in exactly the same way on your website, Facebook page, and your Google My Business page. Cohesive information will help search engines verify your business and identify that each page (website, Facebook, Google My Business) should be attributed to your business.
The HostGator contact page includes the various ways someone might be interested in contacting us, but the main header prominently features a phone number and chat as those are the primary contact methods for our customers.
4. Organize a catalog for your business type
Does your business sell products or offer services? Maybe you do both…
For example, a jewelry store could offer jewelry products for sale, and also services such as jewelry design or jewelry appraisals. Either way, make a list of all the things you do or sell and organize them by categories based on how people would shop.
Read more ideas on how to organize product categories for your online store. You can also use these ideas to help organize your services categories.
Designing Your Website Navigation Menu
The website navigation bar is the main method people will use to browse your website, if you do it well. If you don’t take the time to organize your naivation menu, website visitors can quickly become confused or frustrated and leave your website for a competitor.
No matter what type of website you have, the main navigation menu should quickly highlight your business so website visitors can see what you do, what you offer, and what you want them to know or do as a result of visiting your website.
Blair Williamson is the content marketing manager for HostGator where she comes up with great ideas for blog content, webinars, and emails to help you rock your business.