How Sophisticated Are Your Website Visitors?
This is important to consider when you decide upon navigation for your website. People have little patience and usually aren’t willing to spend much time looking for things on your site.
Here are two hot topics that you should consider for your navbar:
How Do You Get to the Home Page?
If you’re on a website exploring and can’t find what you are looking for, you might be inclined to return to the home page.
Hopefully, your audience doesn’t need to go back to the home page to look for anything. If they do, your navigation isn’t clear, and may need some adjustments so people can find what they are looking for (check search results in Google Analytics or check your search plugin if you have one).
Is there a right answer to A, B or C? Not really, but wowza, you’d be surprised how strongly people feel about these answers. Here is how it breaks down:
- Home button users are not explorers; they haven’t figured out most logos go to the home page. These users are probably older and used to seeing the home button or icon more prevalent on sites developed prior to 2008.
- Logo clickers have figured out this shortcut to the home page. These folks are on the computer a lot (both young and old). They appreciate shortcuts, so if they are "desk jockeys" they probably know.
- If a logo is missing, a techie type will be impatient and just edit the URL in the browser. It works – try it!
Casual Users. If you know casual computer users are the majority visiting your website, you might need a Home button. It isn’t sophisticated, but it works! But also link the logo to the home page – don’t hang the sophisticated users out to dry.
Sophisticated Users. If you have mostly sophisticated users, they know the logo goes to the home page. Skip the Home button. If they’re your main audience, don’t dumb it down with a "Home" button; it will not make a good impression. Oh and don’t worry about the URL editing folks, they are surviving quite nicely.
Why Worry About One or the Other?
The Home button on a horizontal navigation bar takes up VALUABLE space, so it’s important; don’t base design decisions on the minority! Focus instead on the majority of your target audience!
What? The Top Button Goes to a Page?
These days the navigation bar links are usually pure text instead of images. But when they were images (pre 2007), the top-level button with a drop down menu underneath was just a holder that went nowhere, like a subject button.
But once menus became more accessible, retailers and other large sites, hated wasting valuable "real estate" on a navigation bar. Top-level buttons are hugely important.
This one is definitely a hot topic. Not everyone has realized times have changed. Websites now link a page to the top-level button.
Fortunately only the minority haven’t learned the top-level button goes somewhere. Online retailers have taught us everything is clickable!
If you have a lot of drop down links underneath a top button, you might want to make the top-level page (we call that the parent level) a guide to the rest with links. This will make it easy for your visitors.
Don’t Forget a Search Box
Tip: provide an easy to find search box. It shouldn’t supersede your marketing, but at the very least put it in the footer or as the last thing on the sidebar. Check results of searches (your analytics) to see if your navigation needs some adjustments.
Do you go back to the Home page when you are lost on a website?
Sign-up for our newsletter for more great tips!