The website structure of the site is the way its pages are organized. The structure of the website is built will the help of navigation and links, but the other elements like breadcrumbs, category pages, site maps also affect it. A good site layout helps users and search engines find what they are looking for.
If you don’t want to delve into the nuances of perfect website structure, you can always pick up one of the professionally made website templates for small business – from the tiny Bakery Website Templates to the large-scale record label templates! These templates, created by experienced marketers will have a good structure by default.
But before that, we want to share with you # tips on how to create and arrange the site structure correctly!
1. Why the correct website structure and navigation is important?
Navigation is a key criterion for the convenience of using the site, a kind of «map of the area». It is a set of special techniques, methods, and elements that enable visitors to easily navigate through multiple pages of a website. In most cases, this system determines the success of the promotion and conversion indicators of the project.
Poor navigation with many links confuses visitors, scares him away, complicates the process of finding the necessary information.
2. Website navigation requirements
When developing navigation, you have to remember about some requirements:
- simplicity. This includes the creation of intuitive, visible user interface components and menus. Ideally, the transition between sections and pages is limited to a few clicks;
- availability. It assumes the location of navigation elements leading to different blocks/sections on each page of the website;
- stylish design. It requires the high-quality graphic appearance of the components. Harmoniously combined with the design of the resource, navigation elements should stand out among the basic information using contrasting colors, fonts, and other techniques.
3. Key navigation elements of the website
3.1. Main menu
The main menu is the central navigation component of the site. You can immediately see it when you enter the website, without scrolling the page. Naturally, developers use horizontal menus and place them right in the header, which is most convenient and familiar to users.
The main menu should contain links to the main pages of the website:
- about us;
- product catalog/list of services;
- delivery/payment options;
- feedback form;
- contact information.
The optimal number of sections on the panel is 5-7 (check out one of these Law Firm Website Templates). If necessary, you can add a second row, sub-items, drop-down lists, additional levels. If you need to draw attention to any of the items, you should highlight it in font or color. It is also advisable to visually mark the active section of the menu in which the user is located.
3.2. Additional side menu
If the website has an expanded structure, it is worth providing it with an additional side menu. Here you can find subsections and headings leading to main categories of the site.
The side menu is placed in the appropriate sections without duplicating all web pages. The recommended location for this item is the place to the left of the main content. Thanks to the virtually unlimited space of the vertical menu, it is not a problem to create a multilevel menu.
The main thing is to avoid creating an extra huge/long one.
3.3. Bread crumbs
Local navigation, the so-called «breadcrumbs», is a chain of links leading from the current web page to the home page. Regardless of the location where the user is at the moment, the navigation chain allows you to go back a step/two/three at any time. The line reflects the architecture of the website, the current place, its nesting.
Breadcrumbs are present on every page, including the main page. Usually, they are located to the left at the top of the page. The font of clickable links should not be too expressive and too large, overlapping the main content.
The website footer helps the visitor to quickly go to the desired sections or find other relevant information.
It is a good idea to place here the following elements:
- hyperlinks to all main and additional website sections;
- detailed contact information (address, phone numbers, emails);
- feedback forms;
- social buttons.
Take a look at one of these Photography Website Templates – it has a very good footer and a visible feedback form that you won’t miss!
To help the visitor quickly find anything he needs in the set of links to sections, you should divide them into understandable, logical subgroups and place in columns.
3.5. «Back to top» button
This button, usually designed as an arrow makes engaging with the website more convenient.
The button makes it possible to go to the header without long scrolling. This navigation element is especially important if the website offers a huge amount of content and long scrolling.
3.6. Website Icons
A set of icons is often placed on the auxiliary toolbar. These are buttons designed in the form of c familiar graphic images. These graphic elements help the user to go to the main page (image of a house), to the search page (magnifying glass), to contact information (an envelope). Icons can change color depending on the user’s location or by hovering the mouse.
A URL in the address bar is also an important navigational element of a resource. It should be simple, understandable to the average user, directly reflect the essence of a particular web page.
3.8. Site’s map
A website map guides visitors through the website. It is placed on a separate page and contains hyperlinks to all sections/subsections, presenting a detailed structure of the site. Clicking on a selected map item instantly transfers the visitor to a specific part of the website.
In addition to that, navigation items include a heading, a company’s logo with a link to the main page, and a search bar.
4. Tips for optimizing your website’s navigation
Since the navigation system is the main reason causing a high bounce rate, so you should pay attention to its optimization. We recommend:
- avoid the complex structure of partitions, consider a logical hierarchy;
- sort categories according to their popularity;
- track and analyze behavioral factors;
- create categories based on the actual needs of customers;
- test new website elements;
- adapt embedded components to the mobile format.
This will help you to ease the website navigation and significantly improve the usability of your website.