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Because of the importance of navigation, getting it wrong will be destructive for the user experience on your site. The competition is just a few clicks away and your visitors will leave your website after any minor inconvenience.

Website navigation is more than just the navigation bar

The navigation bar is one of the most important parts of a website but navigation is way more complex than that and a lot of people haven’t acknowledged that.

A full-blown web navigation consists of:

Website navigation purposes

Now that you know what website navigation consists of, let’s learn more about its overlooked aspects. For each of the navigation purposes, we have prepared tips with some of our best practices.

A baseline for the browsing experience

Good navigation should make it clear that the website is cohesive and functional. Your visitors should never feel lost. Having intuitive, consistent navigation across the website is crucial.

Some companies even go beyond that. Disney owns multiple websites for their brands and they keep a part of the navigation bar universal for all of them.

Universal website navigation on Disney's websites
A consistent website navigation bar that goes beyond a single site.

This is useful for bigger brands but serves as a good showcase of just how important it is to have consistent navigation. The universal nature of the upper bar isn’t the only thing that makes the Disney navigation great for them. You will notice that:

Importance of search in website navigation highlighted by Disney putting it in two places
The Frozen mobile website highlights the significance of search engines for website navigation.

Your navigation bar should be responsive. The above image is an example of how a tiny screen still allows to include the same amount of options as in the huge Disney universal navigation.

Website navigation reveals the content

The navigation on your site is one of the first things that catch visitors’ eyes. It tells them what’s on your website and helps guide them to the content they’re looking for. How to make it easier for your visitors?

The use of mega menu in website navigation
Disney’s mega menu displays the entire content of their websites. Visitors can quickly find what they’re looking for.

The same applies to footers. People often forget about them because they’re at the end of the website. People have learned to scroll, especially with many websites, pages and apps implementing the “infinite scroll” feature (honourable mention goes to Facebook). Leaving your visitors empty-handed at the end of a page might be disappointing. In case they didn’t find what they’re looking for, you have one last chance to keep them on your website.

Disney's website navigation uses a fat footer
A fat footer extends the user journey when the visitor reaches the end of a page, as well as providing important links like Privacy Policy.

The navigation tells visitors how to use the site

Your business has unique goals and the navigation should be tailored to help you meet them. Designing user journey is an important step in web design. The navigation is there to take the user from their point of entry to the important pages – the ones they’re looking for and the ones that will convert them to clients.

The analytic layer of our unique website building process comes into play again. How to test your navigation?

Make your website navigation work for your visitors

Every website has a goal. While the navigation has to help reach said goal, its most important role is to work for your visitors. They have to be able to find what they’re looking for. The sheer amount and size of websites are confusing enough. It’s crucial to have intuitive and consistent navigation.

We hope these tips can give you a better idea of the importance and complexity of website navigation. Even though the navigation bar takes the centre stage, there’s much more to navigation.

Originally published Dec 06, 2018 9:08:16 AM, updated February 6 2022.

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