How long ago did you set up your website? Have you made any edits to its structure since you created it? Did you just set it up based on what you saw other people doing?
A lot of people don’t put too much thought into the menus on their website because it just isn’t on the top of their priority list. But having a clear, organized navigation is SO important for two reasons:
- For your website visitors!!
No one likes when they can’t easily navigate a website. And no one’s going to spend time on a website that isn’t easy to navigate.
2. For Google!
When you make it clear which pages are which, Google has an easier time understanding which pages on your website are important – therefore making it easier for Google to show your website to new searchers/visitors.
But how do you structure your website menu in a clear, organized way? I’ll tell you!
Have a clear, recognizable logo
If your business has a logo, your website should have a clear, crisp logo that links to your homepage.
Linking to your homepage is important so people can easily navigate back to your home page, no matter where they are on your website.
You may also want to include a link to your homepage in your navigation. This is a personal choice – you may want that there to clarify if your audience is a bit less tech-savvy.
Primary & secondary menus
There has been a rise in recent years to actually have two menus on your website. Now, this isn’t a “must-do”, but sometimes it can make it a little bit easier for people to navigate your website. The purpose of each of these menus is a bit different: your secondary menu will give more information about your company.
Primary menus are customer focused
Your primary menu should be customer-centric, meaning it should help people find your services or figure out what you do. What are the things that your customers can buy from you? What are the needs that they have? What are they looking for?
Now, I’ve seen some primary menus with a LOT of information in them. Sometimes too much info. And every time that you add another link to your primary menu, you’re decreasing the value of that page in Google’s eyes (plus you’re making it a bit more complicated for people to find what they’re looking for). So think about what your key pages are, and try to keep your primary menu to around 5-7 options to make it easy to navigate and for Google to understand what is important.
Be clear, not clever.
When you’re actually naming your menu items, you want to make sure you’re making them as clear as possible so your visitors know what they’re looking at.
Don’t call your blog, “Musings” – call it “Blog.”
Don’t call it, “What we do” – call it “About.”
If people aren’t familiar with you and your business, they’re going to have a very tough time navigating your site if your menu is written in funky terms.
Secondary menus are company-centric
Your secondary menu should be company-centric, meaning it should give more information about your company. So if your visitors want to find out more about you, if they want to apply for a job at your company, if they want to contact you, or dig deeper into your company’s history, this is where they can do that.
You may want to use your secondary menu to include a space for people to sign up for your email list, or you may want to include a search bar so people can find anything they’re looking for.
I like to use social links in my secondary menu, and some businesses like to include their email address or phone number for a quick, easy way for people to connect with them, without needing to dig through everything and visit a contact form or the footer.
Are there things that should go in both the main menu and the secondary menu?
“Should I use drop-downs?”
“I have too many things in my main navigation, can I do a drop-down?”
Yes, you can. But you have to be smart about it.
A drop-down doesn’t negatively impact your SEO. In fact, it can improve it if it’s organized in a really smart way. But dropdowns can also be a little bit annoying for users, especially if they don’t know that it is a drop-down.
So if you use a drop-down, make sure that your theme also includes a little arrow or carrot to tell your visitors, “Hey, there’s something going on down here, come check it out.”
Do not put drop-down links underneath a link. If you’re going to use a drop-down, have that be an umbrella term for what you’re going to have in the drop-down.
“I’m an e-commerce shop with a BUNCH of products. What do I do?”
If you’re an e-commerce shop with a bunch of different products, how do you make sure that people can find what they’re looking for?
You can either link to specific categories and let people scroll through from there, or you can use a mega drop-down menu. A mega drop-down menu includes multiple categories in one hover or click, which tends to work better than individual category dropdowns.
Wayfair uses a mega drop-down menu for their collections:
“How do I make my website mobile-friendly?”
Making sure your website is easy to navigate on a mobile device is SO important because SO many people use their phones to do everything. The secret here is to make sure that when you shift into the mobile version of your site, you use what’s called a hamburger menu.
Hamburger menus have become really well known among people who are navigating on their mobile devices, so people know how to move their way around without the menu taking up the entire screen of their mobile device.
So now we’ve taken a look at how to organize the main navigation of your website, we’ve gone through how to layout your homepage, and how to organize your website menus. Stay tuned for Part 4 of this 5-part series, where I’ll be going over categories and tags and how you can use those in order to help people navigate through your site.