Website navigation is one of the most overlooked things in web design. Following good navigation on your website matters a lot to the readers. It allows them to easily look for the information that they are looking for. And this is especially true for local business websites.
This guide to website navigation for local businesses will explore the best practices to follow and ensure you optimize the website for conversions.
What is website navigation?
Website navigation refers to the set of links that help visitors to look for specific information on the website. These can be in the form of buttons, text links, menu items, search bars etc.
A good website navigation will allow visitors to find content by searching and browsing seamlessly. It will not only improve the time spent on the website but will also improve the chances of them taking action.
Simply put, if visitors can’t find what they’re looking for on your site quickly, they’ll probably just leave. This can affect the bounce rate and thereby the average time spent on the website.
If you’ve made it easy for them to find exactly what they’re looking for — whether that’s the services pages, pricing or the contact page— you can improve their experience and improve conversions as well.
Using navigation menus on the website
Navigation menus refer to the links to the different pages on the website. These are usually located at the top of a page or screen and help visitors find information quickly.
It usually follows the hierarchy based on the importance of each page and the best practice is to have the most important pages visible at all times so they can be easily reached.
For local businesses, these would include Home, About, Services, Locations and Contact pages.
What is sub-navigation on a website?
Sub-navigation refers to the second level of navigation on a website. It is often used to organize a large amount of content into categories, which allows users to find what they are looking for faster.
Sub-navigation can also be used as an aid for people with disabilities or visual impairments who use screen readers or other assistive technology that reads web pages aloud. If your site is built well, it should be easy for these users to navigate from one page to another without having any trouble finding what they’re looking for at any point in time during their visit.
For local businesses, sub-navigations can be used to include the different services and locations that they offer.
Website Navigation Best Practices For Local Businesses
A good website navigation has the potential to improve conversions and make the visitor’s experience enjoyable and intuitive. In other words, it has a higher chance of converting new leads into paying customers.
By following the best practices outlined below, you can ensure that your website navigation is easy-to-use and clear from start to finish.
Streamline your navigation bar
The navigation bar is an important part of the website. It’s what people see first, and it has to be clear, simple, and easy to use. Your navigation bar should also be consistent throughout the site — you don’t want users getting lost while browsing the pages.
Make sure you include links that are easy for customers to find on each page of your website (for example: contact information at the top of every page). And make sure the navigation bar is always up to date and optimized continuously.
For example, if you notice that a particular service page is gaining more traction, you could switch it up to the top to give it more prominence.
Put your navigation in a standard place
It’s important to put your navigation in a standard place. Don’t try to be too creative with the placement, as this can confuse users and make them think they’ve done something wrong.
You should consider placing your site’s main navigation in the header, sidebar, or footer of every page on your website. Depending on the layout you choose for your site and what makes most sense for users’ browsing habits, it might be one or all of these places where you want to put it.
Keep the labels short
To make the navigation readable and concise, have the navigation labels specific with no more than 2-3 words.
Include labels that entice action and doesn’t leave the visitor second-guessing as to what the page is about.
Eg: “Services” is more direct instead of “Our Offers”
Place the pages in the order of importance
Usually, the first and the last items catch our attention the most while the middle elements the least.
So the best practice would be to place the important links first and end it with a CTA.
As for the order, each page has its own value based on its importance. Rank the navigation menu accordingly. The items on the leftmost part of the navigation will be of higher importance than the ones on the right.
For instance, “Services” page are likely to be more important than the “About” page as the intent to take action is more in the former. As such, “Services” will be to the left of the “About” page.
Use object-based navigation intent
This is the most common type of navigation which categorizes the items in the menu based on different objectives, i.e. services, locations, about etc.
This is more suited for local businesses as they treat the navigation as a table of contents and groups pages into specific sections that the business wants to highlight.
Optimize the footer
The footer is the part of your website that appears at the bottom of every page. It’s a common practice to have it there, but make sure your footer is not overlooked.
The best way to optimize your footer for local businesses is by including key local business information and links back to other pages on your site. This can include:
- NAP information
- Opening hours
- Newsletter signup form
- Social media icons
Connect the navigation with the business’s priorities
Your navigation should be in line with the business goals. The navigation should reflect the user’s goals, not just your own.
For example, if a customer is looking for a specific product and there are multiple ways to find it through search or filtering, make sure that each of those options is included in their navigation bar!
Breadcrumb navigation enables users to quickly and easily retrace their steps when they move between different pages by displaying hierarchical information in its most intuitive form.
Not only does this help the search engine crawlers to easily map the site, but also helps users navigate through different parts of the website easily.
Make sure it is responsive to all screen sizes
Your website navigation should be responsive on mobile. This means that the menu and other elements will move to the left or right depending on the screen size.
In addition, you should avoid using hamburger menus on mobile as this can affect user experience and engagement negatively. These menus are great for desktop but they’re not ideal for smaller screens. If you want users who visit your business’ website from a mobile device to have an easy time finding what they need quickly and easily then use sidebar menu sparingly if at all
Leave the buttons for the calls to action
Make sure that the call to action buttons are easy for users to find, easy for users to click on (and not accidentally click), and easy for them to understand (so they know what they are clicking).
- Visibility: The first step is making sure that the CTAs are visible in each section of the site. This means that if a visitor goes from landing on one page of the site through a link or through search results, all pages should have CTAs at the top or bottom so they can easily access them while browsing around.
- Readability: When choosing colors for CTAs, pick ones that stand out against whichever background color you use (e.g., yellow text on a white background) but are still legible when viewed by people who may have poor eyesight or other visual impairments such as color blindness.
Important pages for local businesses to include in the website navigation
There are a few important pages that local businesses should include in the website navigation.
This page is used to provide customers with contact information so they can reach out with questions or concerns. It’s the only page that the business ultimately wants the visitors to land on and so it’s important to highlight it on the website navigation.
Customers want to know who they’re working with before making a purchase or signing up for services. As such, this page would help build trust and credibility and is therefore an important page to include in the website navigation. This can also be done on an about us section of your website instead of having its own page.
If the business focuses a lot of the physical location, this is probably one of most important pieces of information that potential customers need before contacting or visiting you in person at one of your locations around town.
So, make sure it’s easy for people find out where those locations are located by putting this information directly into the navigation bar at top level so everyone can see when visiting any page on site without having click through several tabs just trying figure out which store closest them!
Types of Website Navigation
Horizontal Navigation Bar
This is the most common form of website navigation. It’s a bar that appears at the top or bottom of your page and allows users to jump from one section of the site to another.
Dropdown Navigation Menu
The dropdown menu is ideal when you want to fit a lot of links into part of the navigation bar. It’s great for sites with a lot of sections that still need it to be fairly easy to access everything.
If you’re using the top-level bar to focus on just the most important links, fill in any other sections in a dropdown menu, below or to the side.
Hamburger Navigation Menu
This type of menu consists of three stacked horizontal lines with each line representing an aspect of your company business (e.g., products, services, support center). The hamburger icon looks similar to three stacked boxes with an open middle box representing where you would click on it if you wanted more information about each item listed above it; however the word “hamburger” has become slang for any type o f vertical stackable menu options so few people actually use this term anymore (unless they are talking about delicious fast food).
Vertical Sidebar Navigation Menu
These types are located alongside other content areas like sidebars but also include dropdown menus for additional information about different topics related within them (for example, if there is a list article being displayed then its contents may include links leading into other articles written by different authors).
Steps to Optimize The Website Navigation
Here are some tips for optimizing website navigation for local businesses:
- Use Google Analytics to monitor the behavior. You can see where most time is being spent and which areas of your site need attention.
- Use heat maps to understand where most time is being spent. Heat maps show you exactly where users are clicking on a particular page, so you can find out what elements are more important than others and make them easier to find.
- Use data from analytics reports to monitor the most popular pages on your site, as well as landing and exit pages (pages that people visit before leaving). This will help determine how they’re navigating through your site and give insight into what types of content they’re interested in viewing after landing on one of these pages, allowing you to tailor future content accordingly.