How to Improve your WordPress Website Navigation

The return rate of users, likability and the success of any WordPress website depends upon the ease with which users can navigate through it. Design, aesthetics and content no doubt is as equally important. Whether you are using a web development platform or a CMS (Content Management System), it becomes important to keep the users’ journey in mind.

Designing easy website navigation is crucial to provide an excellent user experience. How easily a user can find its way to the desired webpage, content etc.? How are they going to contact you? How can you provide an easy uncomplicated simplistic system? are some questions you must ponder over if you want to create excellent navigation.

What’s there for you in it?

Having effective navigation not only helps your users but also helps improve your SEO.

  • It helps in reducing the bounce rate on your site.
  • It helps visitors find relevant content fast which improves the return rate of users.
  • It makes your website look more credible and builds a trustful bond with users.

Website’s navigation includes elements that users use to move around your website. It is best to create a system that will let the user access relevant information without wasting much time. Choosing a template designed for user experience in mind is the first step towards a great website navigation. Once you have an appropriate template, you can dig into customizing and enhancing the elements to optimal use. Investing your time and effort into creating a seamless navigation is a sign that you are committed to offer users a great experience, this will quickly promote trust with the users and ultimately make them repeat visitors.

Ordinarily, most website employs a simple navigation menu on top of the website at each page and a few links in the footer. However, there is more to creating an exceptional navigation than mere menus and footer links. In this blogging guide, we will be discussing how to go about creating an exemplary navigation for your website.

1. Navigation bar is where it all starts

Navigation bar is the most essential element if you’re setting up a blog or a website. Your navigation menu holds the pages of interest. Complicated navigation bars are frustrating and unnecessarily time-consuming. This might result in losing visitors and conversions. Traditionally navigation bar is kept on the top of each webpage. However, some websites creatively position the navigation bar at peculiar positions depending on the functionality of their site.

Keeping the bar in front of the users all the time can be rewarding as it lets the users jump to different pages without scrolling back to the top. For this, you can use sticky navbars which follows the user as they scroll through the page.

  • It is best to not clutter your navigation bar with too many menu items. Keep it simple and functional. Most of the websites use less than 7 menu items at max. If you require a broader menu then you can use mega menu which puts different items under categories which organizes your menu and avoids confusion.
  • If you have a responsive website then try to hide your navigation menu behind a button for your mobile version. Since there is less space, this way it looks cleaner.

Try to balance the ease of your Navbar with keeping in mind that it should not detract from the rest of your website.

2. Try to create a visual hierarchy

Website navigation is all about a simplistic structure which can be easily grasped by the user. Creating a structure that is natural to understand is the key to optimize your website navigation. Creating a visual hierarchy helps you build an easy navigation structure. You can accomplish this by carefully planning the position of each element, the font, size and colour also play an important role in giving a hierarchy to the structure.

Using subheading, quotes, link and other elements carefully can result in a navigation structure which is quick-to-grasp. These elements stand out visually and thus are easy for the eye to spot.

  • Try to highlight the most important elements of your navigation by placing them in strategic locations.
  • Use subheadings to draw the eyes of your users to important sections throughout your content.

Try to keep the positioning and differentiation of elements in mind and you will have an excellent navigation. It means to create key elements of your site easy to find and visually stand out.

3. Mobile responsiveness

While designing the navigation for the mobile version of your website you can follow the similar steps included in this article. However, there are a few key elements that need to be taken care of when designing for the mobile version especially as it won’t affect the desktop version the same.

2017 Q1 found out that 49.7% of overall webpage views are coming from mobile devices. Since mobiles are being heavily used to browse websites, it is crucial to have a layout responsive for mobile as well. Like we already discussed, do not create a desktop-style Navbar for your mobile version. There is less navigation space on a mobile device. You can create a navbar button for the mobile layout. Mostly a ‘hamburger’ menu icon is used with text below it stating ‘Menu’.

Figure 1: ‘Hamburger’ Menu

You can also add a ‘go-to top’ icon at the bottom of the page so that the users do not have to scroll all the way up to the top of the page. However, it might not be necessary to use it if you are already using a sticky navigation bar.

4. Add a Sitemap

Having a sitemap on your websites greatly boosts SEO. A sitemap is basically a list of URLs of all the links on your site. It lets the user access all the links in one go, greatly boosting user experience. Google will be able to add you to the SERPs (search engine results pages) way faster than waiting to be added and hoping Google will index and rank all of your pages.

Sitemap is added in the footer section a repository of HTML links. Not all websites add this to their site but it could prove helpful to some of your users and adds an extra touch to user experience. You can upload this same sitemap to Google Search Console for SEO purposes, but an XML file is recommended. HTML sitemaps are more for users and Google may not be able to find all the associated pages, posts, and attachments like images or videos on your website.

5. Consider using Breadcrumbs

Breadcrumbs basically lets the user find their way back through pages. It showcases your navigation hierarchy at the top of your blog. Breadcrumbs not only lets you find your way back but also tells you your present location on the site. It is helpful for visitors to backtrack their journey of they got where they are. It is important for large websites who have a lot going on in there.Figure 2: Breadcrumbs

Breadcrumbs also helps with the look of your organic google search results. And what’s really great is that, if you’re using Yoast SEO, you can enable breadcrumbs for your site directly from your Yoast dashboard.

6. Fix Broken Links

Over a period of time, web pages tend to become old and start malfunctioning. It is believed that an average web page last for 100 days in good health, after this period of time, links start breaking. Visitors come across 404 error which is surely not pleasant for the visitor or your website.

It is recommended that you audit your site from time to time. Do a reiki of your web pages, see if there are any broken links to your website or the pages of another website that you hyperlinked. Fix those links! Large websites are more prone to breaking and it is extremely difficult to manually search for broken links. You can make it simple by using certain WordPress plugins that will do it for you. They will check for broken links within your pages, posts, comments, directories, etc.

Broken Link Checker is a great plugin that can quickly scan your website for broken links. This WordPress plugin monitors links in your posts, pages, custom fields and blogrolls.You’re free to choose a monitoring period for the links. Then receive notifications about the broken links through the dashboard or an email. The plugin also offers suggestions for each broken link it finds. This way you can fix your broken links directly from the dashboard without actually visiting each article separately.

7. Increased Speed Means Increased Conversions

The average attention span of an average human being is less than that of a Goldfish. For users, slow loading websites are a frustrating experience. Websites that load slow naturally destroy their SEO as well. Users usually close websites that load slowly and move on to site with faster loading speed. According to KISSmetrics, 1 second of delay in loading time can be equivalent to 7% loss in conversions.

Slow loading speed totally annihilates your sleek and hard worked navigation. Your images will load slow, some important links or other information might load slowly. However, there are a few plugins that you can use to increase your load time and keep your navigation quick and crisp for your visitors.

You can use W3 Total Cache WordPress plugin to eliminate the loading of redundant data on user’s browser. W3 Total Cache create static caches for each page and then dynamically loads each page on the browser. You will observe a significant decrease in your load time as it saves server resources. It also tactfully integrates with Content Delivery Networks (CDN) to decrease the load speed even further. It takes around 30 minutes to configure for the first time on your WP dashboard. Be patient while configuring the plugin, it’ll be worth your time.

Bonus: Optimize your navigation through trimming down your media

Another way to optimize your website’s navigation is by trimming down the heavy images. Adobe in its report said that 39% users stop engagement with a website if their images load slowly. Slow loading images totally disturbs your navigation, a visitor is often frustrated and confused because of this.

WordPress offers various plugins that can be used to reduce the image size so that there is less load on the server and images can load quickly. WP Smush.It is a great plugin to reduce your image size. It basically crushes the unnecessary information on your image, which results in reducing the size without compromising on the quality of the image.The plugin has a bulk smush option which can process 50 images at a time from your library simultaneously. You can also set up automatic smush so that every image is resized and optimized as per your specifications when it’s uploaded.

Wrapping up

It is possible that some users might not identify the effort you have put in to create a fantastic user experience but it will eventually be beneficial for both you and your users. More importantly, you’ll be giving your readers what they want: an engaging experience well-worth their time. Having a great navigation is crucial to creating a credible and easy-to-go website, it also improves conversions and create repeat customers.

Creating top-notch-content and having unique website ideas won’t do the trick alone. Creating a seamless experience for visitors is equally important. We hope this article helped you in understanding how you can optimize your website’s navigation for a better user experience.