Have you ever arrived on a website and couldn’t figure out how to find anything that you needed?
Well yes, of course you have. We all have.
It’s beyond frustrating isn’t it? You arrived on the website looking for a particular “link” in mind, but it’s nowhere to be found. Most websites struggle with this common usability flaw and it’s none other poor top level navigation. If your readers or customers don’t know where to go, then they’re going to leave your website quicker than the short length of time you or your designer spent in developing it.
The good news is I can explain to you how you can correct this issue on your own site. Even better, I have two examples; one of which has clearly labeled top level navigation, while the other site is very difficult to navigate your way through.
As a side note, I’m pursuing my masters degree in Digital Game Design and Development and one of the key areas of focus is usability and how it affects users.
Let’s dive right into it, shall we?
As I mentioned, there are two sites I had in mind that demonstrate effective and ineffective usability from a top level navigation perspective.
So say you were looking to order a pizza for example. 5 Brothers Pizzeria is a perfect example of poor top level navigation. If you take a look at the site, you’ll notice that the header, where the majority of people’s eyes go, has no top level navigation links. While it’s fine to have your navigation in the sidebar, it’s not as effective when your site has too much going on, like this one. Not to mention, everything on this site is clickable, especially in the header, and they all bring you back to the home page. As the user this brings about a lot of confusion. Plus, the actual navigation in the sidebar has cryptic descriptions. In other words, when you look at the “buttons” that appear clickable, do you feel they are clearly explained?
This is what many websites fail to pay close attention to when designing their layout. You need to always consider the user, reader, customer; whatever you wish to call them. They have to know what they’re getting out of your site upon arrival. This site is a perfect example of what not to do!
Just a side note…have you ever seen so many contact links on one site? What’s up with that?
Let’s switch gears to another pizza site with identifiable top level navigation called, Pizza Delivery. Right off the bat, I like that I can clearly identify the “buttons” on the site. Also, another useful element when it comes to usability is understanding that “less is more.” Notice, unlike the previous site, there are very few top level navigation links. This makes it easier for the user to interact with the site. Also, the buttons clearly define what you will get should you choose to view that page.
Now after giving you that usability lesson, have you thought about the top level navigation of your website and whether or not you’re doing your users a disservice?
You can correct any of these top level navigation mistakes by clearly defining your “buttons” and using the “less is more” concept. You should only list links that you feel are absolutely necessary for your users, which will ultimately result in a more effective website.
Any questions? Feel free to ask in the comments!