Website Navigation – The Importance of Testing Website Navigation

This post was written by Internet Marketing John on August 19, 2011
Posted Under: Internet Marketing Information,Website Usability

mapsandscopeThe importance of testing website navigation should never be understated.

Very few elements on your website are more important than the navigation that you provide to your visitors.

Testing the efficiency of your navigation elements and making sure that they are working properly is extremely important to your bottom line.   Not doing so can drastically affect your profit margins.

Good website navigation is also an essential element in improving user experience and creating a meaningful interaction for your site’s visitors.

The importance of testing website navigation on information portals and e-commerce sites, as well as websites focused on landing page optimizations also should not be underestimated.

Although the idea of “conversion” rules the focus of every sales page; the call to action and other elements, such as imagery that aid in the conversion process, often take precedence.

Navigation should never be an afterthought.

It is the single element that can move users closer to the end of the sales funnel, even from a very specific landing page.

Location:

Web users are impatient and will not spend time on your website if they can’t find what they want quickly and easily.

This is why navigation should be a prominent element of your web design.

The importance of testing website navigation should be obvious here.

Only testing will reveal the best location for your primary navigation setup.

The most common location for primary navigation is horizontally, across the top of the web page.

The advantage of using this location for your navigational elements, is that it provides additional room on the page for content and other relevant information about your products and services.

This location does not require your visitors to scroll down and navigate deeper into your site.

Horizontal navigation across the top of a web page usually results in increased page views and longer visiting times on your site.

When using graphics in the header of your page, make sure that you test the placement of navigation above and below the main graphic.

Although today’s design trends include primary navigation that is bundled with images and calls to action, you should still test  simple navigational setups.

Navigation placed on the left or right side of your web pages at one time used to be quite popular.

These days as website designs have evolved and users have become more sophisticated, new forms of audience appropriate navigation are being used.

Functionality:

Where you place your navigation elements is important however, the functionality of the navigation menu itself is also important.

When it comes to navigation functionality, Web designers these days have a variety of options available to them such as; mouseover effects, dropdowns, nested menus and more.

Javascript libraries like jQuery, Mootools, prototype or script.aculo.us. can give you more functionality ideas.

Descriptions:

Website section names, that are labeled in the navigation, should clearly state what the user can expect after they click the button.

Ambiguous words like “resources” or “tools” for the most part should be avoided.

Generic terminology like this will often leads users to stray from the conversion path you are trying to maintain for them on your website.

Use specific descriptions for your labels to get your customers where you want them to visit.

We all know the importance of testing website navigation but all too often we don’t take enough time to just do it.

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