Navigation can make or break your website. If a visitor can’t find what they’re looking for in one or two clicks, they’re probably not going to stick around. Your customers want to find what they need quickly and easily, and you’ve got about three seconds to make that happen. If your site isn’t easy-to-use, your visitors will bounce to a site that is…and they may not return.

Navigation Tabs

Visitors don’t want to scan through dozens of titles to find what they’re looking for. Keep it simple and stick to the basics. If your navigation tab says “blog” it better lead to your blog. Don’t try to trick your audience into viewing ads or sales pitches by intentionally misleading them – this is a great way to alienate and annoy potential clients.

Clear Categories

Category headings and subheadings should be very specific. In the off chance someone arrives on your page without knowing anything about you, you want to show what you do as explicitly as possible. A drop-down menu with a vague, catch-all title like “services” or “rates” doesn’t make what you do very clear. In addition, categories listed in a drop-down are less likely to get picked up by web crawlers and improve your SEO.

Pages with titles like “photos,” “videos,” or “articles” let people know what is on the page, but not what they’re about. Always be specific, and let the viewer know what they’re going to see: “wedding photo gallery,” for example, or “online marketing training videos,” or “peer-reviewed articles” would all be better options.

Clickable Links

If the client sees a photo of a product they want to buy, they should be able to click on that photo and be taken to a purchasing screen. Making your site user friendly increases the chances that your audience will stick around.

Search Bar

Sometimes when you’re looking for something on a webpage, it’s easier to just type your question into the search bar than to navigate all the various links. I’ve personally abandoned a page after not quickly finding a search bar – and I know a lot of other people who have, as well.

Be sure to keep your navigation consistent. If one image is hyperlinked, all images should be hyperlinked. Check the search bar is at the top of your home page, it should also be at the top of your services page. Social share buttons should consistently appear on all blog posts if they are on one. Keep things consistent so your audience knows what to expect and where to find what they’re looking for.

Optimize Mobile Use

Lastly – make sure your navigation is optimized for mobile. Statistically, it is much more likely that a customer will be accessing your site with a mobile device rather than a personal computer. A site that works great on a PC isn’t worth anything if it won’t function on a smart phone.

As a business owner, you should continuously review and tweak your website to ensure the best possible customer experience. Routinely test your page and see if there is anything you can do to make navigation better – your audience will thank you for it.