7 Ways to Make Website Navigation Easy for New Visitors

make website navigation easier for new visitors

When the World Wide Web first went live in 1991, you were lucky to stumble across the lone website that accounted for all of the occupancy in cyberspace. Fast-forward to 2014, when the casual Internet browser now has the ability to access more than 930 million websites—a number that expands by the second.

With those figures in mind, it’s important to make website navigation as easy as possible. Whenever a visitor lands on a website for the first time, they are faced with the task of getting accustomed to an unfamiliar interface. If that person has a difficult time figuring out how to navigate the site, he or she might seek a substitute—and odds are, it won’t be difficult to find one.

In a recent survey conducted by HubSpot, 76 percent of respondents indicated the most important factor they consider when critiquing websites is the ease with which they can find what they want. Website owners hoping to make the navigation of their sites as easy as possible for new visitors should consider the following seven tips:

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Accessibility

When people access a website, they usually have some purpose in mind. This purpose can be reduced to the search for information—whether that’s related to a company, a social media profile, a sports team or the news is up to the user. While recognizing visitors’ desire for information, shrewd website owners would be wise to make that information as accessible as possible. Arrange data in a way that’s easy to follow and locate. That way, new visitors don’t spend more than a few seconds figuring out what they have to do to access the information they want. Failure to make information readily accessible could very well discourage that visitor from returning.

Aesthetics

In the example above from the homepage of the clothing eCommerce website VF Outlet, we get a great display of aesthetics that benefit new visitors. First of all, every primary category (Womens, Mens, Juniors, Kids, Intimates, Plus, Shoes) are neatly and clearly laid across in the nav-bar, followed by a simple search box. The majority of this is taken up by a very large and beautifully designed call-to-action (in the green box). New visitors instantly understand what’s being offered because of the visual interpretation and the large text description.

Human beings like patterns, those which are appealing to the eye. We like order. Give your website a sleek, clear design and make sure the layout is sensible and understandable. Pay specific attention to colors and fonts, and make sure there are alluring graphics and clean copy present. There’s nothing more frustrating than trying to read black text against a dark blue background, so keep contrasts in mind as well.

Cleanliness

Clutter causes fatigue, so make sure your website isn’t overcrowded with too much content. Just like whitespace is used in novels, make sure there are parts of your website that aren’t filled with text, graphics or other content. Alternatively, white space can be replaced with pleasant imagery, such as in the example above. Too much data could lead to a sort of sensory overload that is undesirable. If you have to, err on the side of minimalism.

Branding Identity

Be proud of your website’s identity, and make sure that anyone who goes to your site will recognize relatively quickly what its purpose is. Prominently display your company logo and put other assets in easy-to-find locations as well.

Page Speed

It’s 2014, and for whatever reason, we’ve lost all semblance of patience when it comes to the Internet. If something doesn’t load instantaneously, we grow frustrated—fast. Pay attention to your website’s load time, so visitors aren’t staring at the screen and wondering whether your site will ever load. The quicker it loads, the better.

User Friendliness

On the Comm100 homepage we get a perfect example of user friendliness. The primary call-to-action is laid out clearly (easy to locate and interpret) while three core benefits are display underneath. This is vital to user friendliness. Think about how many services offer ten, twenty, or more features and try to flaunt all of them on one page – this is tedious and confusing for new visitors. They have to take the time to run through every feature and determine if it’s worth their time and investment. Comm100’s example allows new visitors to grasp the product and the benefits in less than three seconds.

Also, this is the age of AdBlock, which means pop-up ads are becoming futile efforts. Nobody likes a telemarketer calling their house just as the family is about to sit down and eat dinner. Building off of that thought, nobody likes going to a website and being bombarded with pop-up ads. So, make sure pop-up ads are used sparingly. Yes, many websites use pop-up ads strategically if a visitor begins to navigate away from the page; however, too many ads are an extreme detriment to your site. Many first time users could become so annoyed with burdensome ads that they refuse to return. Imagine getting a pop-up within the first second of landing on a site – that’s a big red flag and instantly interrupts the initial digesting process for new visitors.

Expectation Enforcement

New visitors have a plethora of expectations because there are so many possible search queries they used to arrive on your website. In the example from VF outlet, we saw “swimwear” on their homepage. This is known as “trend setting.” Spring is rolling in and even though it’s not quite time to hit the beaches, it’s the perfect time to prepare.

While the majority of hyperlinks that appear on sites across the Internet bear a blue color, many designers are veering away from this tradition. These days, hyperlinks can be any color, really, and sometimes they aren’t even underlined. In order to make the navigation process as easy as possible for first-time users, be certain — no matter what color you decide to use for hyperlinks — it’s evident that users can click on the text and be sent somewhere else. You certainly don’t want to lose visitors for something as thoughtless as not differentiating hyperlinks from regular text.

In the time you’ve just spent reading this article, it’s likely that somewhere around 100 additional websites have been born on the Web. And more sites are popping up with each word you read. It’s imperative you take the time to ensure your website is as easy to navigate as possible, so when new users stumble upon you, they will want to come back. Failure to do so will just reroute more traffic to your competitors.

Got any other tips on how to make a website easy to navigate? Tell us in the comments below!

increase website conversion with live chat

[Free Download] How to Structure Your Website for Better Conversion

Website design is crucial to conversion rate. This white paper gives you some insights on product grouping, website focus, customer expectations, and live chat measurement.

Download Now

About 

Jesse Aaron is a professional marketing blogger and a Community Manager at WebpageFX. He writes about eCommerce, social media marketing, and conversion rate optimization. Follow Jesse on Google+

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