Imagine driving around a city with no place name markers or clear visual clues how to get from A to B. How would that experience feel? A good website should be like a well planned city with clear and simple directions to the places of interest. Frustrated and confused users won’t stick around.
5 Website Navigation Mistakes
- Don’t forget to have a HOME button. At the very least, make the logo a clickable link back to the landing page. People need a point of reference. The landing page is an entry point and orientation sign post that should pave the way to all other important parts of the website.
- Don’t duplicate your navigation. Some sites list their navigation horizontally and then again vertically in a sidebar. The thinking seems to be “we should offer multiple ways to move around the site”. Wrong. All this does is create confusion in the mind of the user. “Why are there two ways to perform the same action?”, they ask in their minds. “Perhaps there IS something different about these two links” they say to themselves. Having multiple navigation lists simply creates confusion and discomfort for the user.
- Don’t use FLASH for your navigation. Using Flash for any critical elements of your website is a questionable strategy at the the best of times. Anyone viewing your site on an iOS platform such as iPhone or iPad won’t be able to see it.
- Don’t put links to other sites in your main navigation. There is an implicit assumption by users that your main navigation is a way to get around YOUR website. If you need to include a link to another site, put it somewhere else and ideally, highlight the fact that it is an offsite link.
- Don’t use Mystery Meat Navigation. There are some sites that offer an ambiguous set of icons that you need to “mouse over” to find out what they do. It might seem cute, but in reality people don’t have the time and don’t care enough about your site to memorize what each icon does. Furthermore, in the mobile web age, remember that the human finger has no “hover” function.
The following video shows a classic Mystery Meat Navigation example.