Writing Effective Navigation Menu Bars

Navigation is a huge priority when you're designing a website. It needs to be customer centric or you're going to lose site visitors who might otherwise become customers.

By customer centric, I mean above all else easy to use.

1. It should be easy to find on the page. This might entail giving two options - a simple menu bar across the top and a more detailed list down the side that shows pages. This lets people explore a category from the top menu or go right to a specific page through the side menu.

Stay away from artsy, show-off menus that amuse your CEO but alienate customers who don't want to waste their time figuring out how to navigate your site.

2. Make the link text in buttons easy to see. Some experts recommend black text on white background, but many designs don’t allow for that combination. Be sure your designer understands that navigation is a priority so their choice of colors and fonts will support ease of use.

3. Use keywords in your navigation menu exactly as a customer would use them in a search. This may help with search engine friendliness. And it definitely helps your customers feel they came to the right place when they see the terms they searched for on Google right there in your menu.

4. For a typical non-shopping website, you'll want to limit your main menu items to five or six items at the most. More than this and the important items become diluted. Decide on what you want to achieve with the site and write the navigation menu to support this.

5. Involve your web copywriter before setting in stone your website's navigation menu. Your copywriter can help you brainstorm menu items from your customers' point of view and also find ways to fit your keywords in so they sound natural.

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