Navigating Through Your Navigation

I have always been fascinated with why I like some menu designs and why I avoid certain sites because of poor navigation design. In my own design experiance I have always struggled with deciding on what to use in my primary and secondary menus. I constantly ask myself, “If I don’t put this page in the menu will people ever find their way too it? I found a great article on marketing blog that gave a lot of helpful insight to nailing a good navigation menu.

In the beginning the article talked mostly about analytics and very basic design, touching on card sorting, SEO analytics, and assets reports. It did mention something that I hadn’t heard of before; Visitors flow. From my understanding it is a feature within Google Analytics that represents graphically how users are interacting with your site. Though it seems pretty straight forward, the order of the menu matters too. This is something that I have always ordered based on other sites, not the needs of my own site. The article proceeded to talk about how you should name your menu items. It boiled down to the what exactly your site audience is. For the highly creative style sites, you can be a little looser with the name ideas, but for more business geared sites you will want to tend to stick to more professional names.

Lastly, it recommended using object based, noun titles as the clearest cut way to direct users around your site. However, the article did shows the Boston College screen capture that we looked at in class when talking about audience based navigation. The university example was by far the best use of an audience based navigation for a site that I could think of. That being said I think that such a menu would work really well for a city entertainment site. Here the user could navigate to exactly what form of entertainment they like based of the kind of person they are.

In the summary of the article the main point that was stressed was to really dive into the analytics of your sub pages. This will help determine what needs to be accessible right off the back when people are visiting your site. Setting up a hierarchy of secondary and maybe even tertiary menus will help clean up and better organize the structure of your website navigation. This is definitely something I will be keeping in mind as I further my education and web design experience. So much of the initial user experience with a website is done within the menu and it is certainly no something that you want to overlook.

The article can be viewed here.


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