Navigation is the most important aspect of any website. If you want to help your users to find the relevant information, you need to make your web navigation really effective. It’s one of the reasons why users can return or don’t return. And it’s necessary for you to keep the situation under control.
There are no specific regulations for website navigation: you can make it multilevel and non-standard or clear and transparent. So how can you choose the appropriate design? Let’s start from the beginning.
What is the web navigation?
It is a combination of different tools that help your customers move around your website. This system is like a map, but interactive, where each page is designed really well and where you can find all the answers you need. Working on your web nav, try to imagine yourself as a user who is here for the first time. At every moment of time you need to know where you are, why are you here and where are you going.
It doesn’t matter whether you use horizontal or vertical web menu, you need 3 important points to succeed:
Using both software and visual tools, you’ll make them perfect.
Start with a detailed study of the information architecture (IA). It will help you to provide your users with the optimal access of website. It’s also important to take care about the structure of the content. Not from your personal, but from the user’s point of view. The perfect structure should consist of a minimum of navigation layers. It must provide the customer with quick access to a specific section. At the same time, the division of the sections should be clear. Otherwise, prospects will just leave your website. Nowadays everybody appreciates his time and is not ready to understand the inconvenient interfaces. Make them intuitive and predictable, let your customers find everything they need in a few clicks.
Good web navigation is always logical, but as simple as possible. Include in the website menu only those elements that are necessary for sharing your ideas. Forget about a lot of sections, delete everything you can delete and leave only important items. Your prospect would be thankful.
Choosing a design, bet on readability, organic and uniformity. Prefer conventional navigation elements. Get rid of everything that is too much — too complicated, too old-fashioned, etc. You don’t need non-standard items to attract your customers if they affect the usability of your website negatively. The less unnecessary active elements you use — the more satisfied users you have. Take a look at some web design menu ideas to inspire by:
It is a traditional design you can meet at the most of the websites. It is popular because combines convenience with functionality. It is the organic solution for the standard screen orientation of the most monitors. All items of the menu are active and available at the same time. Users can expand the list of sections pressing the cursor.
One important advice to follow, you should consider the appearance of your website not only at this current moment, but also thinking about its future expansion. Otherwise, you’ll have to redo almost the entire design wanting to make some changes. And the statistics show that users don’t like the cardinal changes.
Vertical menu design
Classic solutions are phasing out gradually, that’s why there was a need for an alternative. And a vertical navigation is what are we looking for. Now the menu that is located in the left column of the page even more popular.
It can be used with different kinds of pages – single or multi, with compact navigation or the three-lined drawer, etc.
Left menu bar website design can be simply edited, it has unlimited possibility of expanding. That’s why it’s the best option for e-commerce with a variety of goods and companies providing a lot of services. And of course they are optimal for different devices. Here are some left navigation menu examples:
Looking at vertical navigation bar examples, it is necessary to consider some disadvantages. The menu can overlap your content in expanded form. And the lower navigation elements are hardly noticeable.
If your task is to create a killer website, you should inspire by next navigation bar design ideas.
This website is is clean and there is enough space between links what makes it a good example of using vertical navigation. Users will definitely appreciate the sliding container. Using it, you can open or hide the content without issues.
One more example with vertical web design on every page. The long nav is fixed to the left, what is oriented on readers who used to consume information from left to right. They will appreciate this decision. And the company decided to keep the common place of the brand logo, the top-left corner. If you’re working with small restaurants, you can be inspired by Smokey Bones and use the flyout listing with all the offers.
This navigation bar web design can’t leave you alone. Creating an informational website, don’t think you need a lot of pages full of unique and creative content. Bet on design, like the Nuabikes did. A single page layout is a correct decision because it was made browsing through content far easier. Use animations to attract the attention and to share your ideas.
Vertical menu designs look better on websites that rely on additional screen space. If you’re working on website for cafe or restaurant, small business, shop or art portfolio, it would be the best choice. But it shouldn’t limit, you can experiment, e.g. adding a vertical nav. But making something, make it really well. The idea is worth nothing without a good realization.
Some UX-tips for the best navigation
Keep in mind that there is no established standard that defines how should your nav look like. It is more important to understand which website do you create, which idea you want to share with your users and which goal you need to achieve using this. For example, creating the ecommerce website, you can use algorithms that help customers to find and buy the necessary goods of services as fast as possible. As for the promo-site, you can engage the user in the gameplay and simplify the basic elements for easier navigation.
There are some useful tips for you:
- Place the menu in the common places. Don’t reinvent the wheel, most of the users are conservative, and they used to see the buttons on the same places and on other websites. Bet on the popular F-shaped pattern when the main buttons are located from top to bottom and from left to right.
- Make buttons interactive. A lot of visitors don’t even suspect that any element is clickable, so try to separate the menu from the rest of the page elements. Then your users will immediately understand the structure of the website.
- Highlight the menu visually. Make an accent on the buttons so that visitors can see at a glance that it is something more than just a text.
- Use contrasting colors for the background and text of the buttons.
- The active menu item should be highlighted. Make sure that the user can navigate easily. Here you can use breadcrumbs or backlight (you can use both).
- Use clear language. Even if you’ve created your resource exclusively for professionals, do not use complex terms. Determine what people are most often looking for on the Internet, and then adapt your buttons to the content.
- Use a multi-level menu with a preview, so that when you hover the cursor menus are expanded.
- Group similar items and place them nearby.
- If your pages are long, you should pin down the menu. Then your users can go to any point without rising up and without performing unnecessary actions.
There are many types of navigation that you can apply on your website. At the same time, there is no universal way to create perfect navigation; it all depends on your needs or the wishes of your customers. We hope that our examples inspired you, and now you’re ready to realize the most daring ideas.