Little things can make huge differences. One of the most interesting examples is your website navigation. Although, it takes up just a few pixels but navigation is arguably considered as the most essential and ever-present aspect of your website. It affects traffic search engine rankings, conversions and of course the user-friendliness.
“Everything important about your website is connected to the navigation, from content to the URLs.”
What is a Navigation Menu?
The menu guides the users to different parts of the website, making it link between its various useful web pages. Designing an effective navigation menu is one of the easiest ways to keep your current and potential customers interested in a variety of stuff.
Now you may have a design that looks extraordinary but chances are there that it might fail to impress the users due to lack of usability. Hence, it is most likely to fail in its purpose. So what can be done? Here down below I would like to mention numerous ways through which one can design a navigation menu that works well for its end users.
HTML5 & CSS3
The <nav> tag introduced in HTML5 is nothing but a set of navigation elements that are designed especially for the major navigational links. Moreover, they are even supported by all the major browsers. Which ultimately tends to give greater flexibility to the developers using HTML5 for navigation menu design.
CSS3 is a kind of web editor that suits both new comers as well as the experienced ones. It comprises of an interface that allows you to create websites guided by visual feedback, giving you an opportunity to design the websites with a clear picture of how things are going to be done. In addition to this, CSS3 offers a wide range of editing options that turns out to be a treat for web designers.
JQuery navigation menu is one of the most common ways when it comes designing navigation menus. One can get organized with tabbed menus with numerous drop down options. Besides, it also provides a very convenient atmosphere for the users to navigate through. By seeking help from an eminent jQuery development company, one can get all the menu personalized with ease including animation and other effects.
So, what can be achieved?
- Responsive Navigation Menu- The responsive navigation menu is considered as one of the trickiest parts of designing a responsive website. And therefore, it is meant to offer the best accessibility to the users and allows for them to experience the convenience of the desktop’s menu system while offering the comfort of mobility. As a result, all the top designers create a website that usually features responsive navigation menus as part of their design, ensuring flexibility and enhancing the reach amongst its end users.
- User enabled technology- Everyone may not be using the same browser or for that matter the same version of the browser, hence it is best to incorporate code fallback solutions especially when applying your navigation menu design ideas. It may quite interest you to know that these fallback options will provide the end users with conflicting browsers or even hardware to experience trouble free alternatives to the default menu set up.
- User- friendly terms- Like I said before, the best menu design is the one that exerts the least amount of strain to the user, both in terms of menu layout and in offering a clear perception on where they are in the website’s hierarchy.
In order to attain this, the developer requires ensuring the consistency of the navigation design through all the web pages which automatically ends up keeping the users comfortable and allow them to feel with the design.
Other than these there are many other practical ways through which jQuery developers can improve the design of the navigation menu.
- Keep it simple- The key to effective looking navigation menu is to keep it simple. No matter how many content categories you have and how many pages you might need to link together, don’t ask too much from your users.
- Before designing, always remember to set up the information architecture- By using numerous user testing techniques such as focus groups and card sorting, one can match their content to user’s mental schemata. Besides, it is essential to group content items and define categories in a way that makes some sense to the end users.
- Don’t stuff your website. Strip down your design to its bare minimum and keep elements that enhance usability as well as overall user experience of your site.
- Test your content structure. And make sure that things are structured in a logical way.
- Use clear wording- After defining the information architecture, consider wording that your users are familiar with. For this, you can seek help from your current visitors just to make sure that the navigation menu is in line with their mental schemata. Many web developers tend to invent categories just for the sake of being creative, which is totally wrong! Choose wording that is simple and of course, to the point.
For some sites, minimalist wording can be effective. In addition to this, one could even consider adding visuals for more clarity.
Do you have unusual content categories? If so, having some descriptive context to help visitors find their way can provide great help.
Use standard wordings if possible. In the case of common content categories, use labels that people are familiar with, don’t confuse them with creative inventions.
- Make it visual- At Apple.com, the navigation menu is supported by realistic images to help visitors find what they are looking for. Human brains always tend to favor visual information over textual information. So, how visuals can help make your navigation menu more usable and effective?
- Icons- Icons help to make navigation bar more usable, personal and even fun to use. Choosing clear and meaningful icons and making the style match the rest of your design is the best way to choose.
- Color- Using colors to highlight active menu items or building a color scheme for different content categories. Colors are very important especially when it comes to smoothly integrating your navigation menu in the rest of your design.
- Images- Detailed images can offer a wide range of information that might otherwise be difficult to fit into one or two words.