5 Website Navigation Best Practices That Convert Customers

March 18, 2024 | Website Design and Redesign

Like this? Share it.
Woman navigating website

Why do people visit your website? Usually, it’s to find out more information about your business, or hopefully to even purchase your products or services. Website navigation best practices can help you attract and convert customers.

Your website should make it as easy as possible for anyone to find the information they need to convert to a customer. Read on to learn about why website navigation is important and 5 website navigation best practices that can increase your website’s conversion rate.

Why website navigation is important

People who cannot find what they are looking for are going to quickly leave your site and you’ve probably lost your prospect for good.

In 2006 the journal of Behaviour & Information Technology crunched the data and found that you have 50 milliseconds to make a good first impression with your website. While that’s an old statistic, it’s likely that you have even less time to make a good impression today as the competition for people’s interest has only increased in the last few years.

A good first impression means that the user can find what they were looking for when they clicked through to your site, whether that be more information about your company or your products.

What if people can’t find what they’re looking for on your website? Chances are, you’ll lose their business forever. In fact, 89% of customers do business with a competitor because of a poor website experience.

Luckily, there are a few things you can do to improve your website navigation and increase conversion on your website.

5 Website navigation best practices to increase conversion

Website navigation best practices tend to be common sense. So why do so many companies not follow these website navigation best practices? Maintaining a website isn’t always easy, and it’s important to set aside time to revisit your site and ensure you’re adhering to these practices.

#1 Keep your website content clearly organized

There are several ways that websites get off track, and become confusing for users. When you’re thinking about how to organize the pages on your website, always think about it from the perspective of the user.

Users spend an average of 6.44 seconds looking at a navigation menu, and 38% of users take page layout and navigation into account when judging a site.

Group your navigational items in a way that makes sense to your viewers. That means organizing content like an org chart. All of your content should be arranged by levels, with subpages clearly sitting below landing pages, and section-heads that make sense.

As your company grows and you add more content, it’s important to stick to this hierarchy. There are some pages, like special events, news items, or special offers, that won’t obviously fit into the regular flow of pages.

An obvious solution could be to create these as stand-alone landing pages that live outside of your main navigation. Landing pages are great as part of a marketing campaign, but can be confusing if there’s not a clear path for users to gain additional information.

Spending some time analyzing your site traffic may help you understand the typical paths through your site that users take, so you can ensure that key information is easy to find.

#2 Position content strategically on the page

This website navigation best practice has the most potential to increase conversion.

People’s attention spans are short, and users want to find what they’re looking for quickly. That’s why it’s important that your most important information, like your deep benefits, are positioned where users look the most.

According to one study, 57% of time on a website is spent looking above the fold (the content before you scroll down), and 74% of time is spent in the first two “screenfuls”. Users tend to read from the left uppermost part of the site, and then “zigzag” their way down. That means that the top left part of your site is prime real estate.

So what information should you put in the coveted “above the fold” section? Statistics show that the global conversion rate of websites is only 3.68%. That’s incredibly low. But what if you grab someone’s attention from the beginning? Your product or service’s deep benefits should feature prominently in the top portion of your site, along with a call to action.

#3 Keep your website navigation current

Most business websites start out with a navigation that is well-organized. The problems most commonly arise as the business changes and the navigational buckets no longer makes sense.

As your offerings change (and it seems like most businesses are always changing!), make sure you can move around pages or rename pages and sections. If your business grows and changes enough, you may need to consider an overhaul to the navigational system.

The key is to revisit your website navigation often.

#4 Use effective web design to aid navigation

Remember that not everyone enters your website from your home page. Assume that some visitors didn’t start at the “start” so you need to give clues about where someone is and how they get to other places.

  • There can be design clues, such as highlighting within the navigation what page you are on, rather than having it revert to an “off” state.
  • There can be clues within the URL by making the specific page address show clearly it’s place within the website. For example: domain.com/about/team
  • Use breadcrumb navigation to show path
  • Be consistent with all these systems

Here is an example, from MainePERS, BEFORE we updated their site:

Confusing navigation
It’s unclear where you are in relation to the other pages on the site and where to go from here.

And an example AFTER we updated their site:

More clear navigation after redeisgn
Using multiple design signals helps web visitors understand where they are on your site.

As you can see, the URL structure, the main and sub-navigation menus, and the breadcrumb navigation all consistently reinforce the visitor’s place within the site. It also makes it clear where they could click to go somewhere else.

What about sitemaps? Many websites offer sitemaps to help aid visitors in finding the right information. There is certainly no harm in offering a sitemap (and there is some potential SEO benefits from adding one), but do not force your prospects to use a sitemap. The organization of your website should be clear enough that a sitemap is unnecessary.

#5 Optimize for mobile use

Not everyone sits in front of their computer with attention undivided as they navigate your website. In fact, 54% of all website traffic in the U.S. is from mobile devices. Globally, that number skyrockets to 65%.

If your website is not optimized for mobile use, over half of your site visitors will simply leave.

Luckily, most website builders today have tools to make mobile optimization easy. But keep in mind that certain functions, like text hovering and carousels, might not work on mobile.

Does your website navigation need help? Whether you want to create a new website and aren’t sure where to start or you need to reorganize your website following a business restructure, we can help. Talk to us about how we can implement these website navigation best practices to help you attract and convert customers.

Let’s Talk