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Website menu design mistakes (and how to avoid them)
How to improve your menu
Navigation usability is one of the top priorities of a successful website and it is so easy to make a mistake that can cost you a lot. Either you are working on your first menu or editing a long tailored website there are good practices that should become a mantra.
We can divide navigation usability for WordPress into two big parts, theme related practices, and content related practices. What we will not cover is theme related issues as this theme developer competence. What you can do about it is make sure to choose a good theme. On the other side, there are practices related to how you build your menu and this is something you are influencing directly. Below you will find a list of tips that can help you to build a better menu, a better website.
1. Every section counts
People are ‘designed’ the way we are not able to aggregate a huge amount of information at once unless you are Akira Haraguchi. For a regular person, according to research, it is between six to eight menu points we are able to accumulate easily. The more menu points you have, the more effort will be needed to handle your navigation.
This does not mean that you should always reduce or worse grow the number as scrolling or switch the section after each sentence is also annoying. Just make sure to look for a golden mean between an amount of content and sections.
2. Alphabet rules
There is nothing more annoying that trying to guess the logic behind product categories. I have come across several online stores that use some hidden logic to present their product categories.
I admit that for some online stores ‘Multimedia’ may be way more important than ‘Audio’, but there had to be way around. And what if we are talking about a huge online store with some 30 categories, it is a total nightmare.
3. Words, not sentences
‘All about my shoe company’ is definitely not the best way to name a simple page. I would suggest you limit the number of words for one menu section up to three. And even then, think of it as a call to action, for example, ‘Book My Trip’ is something that could work. For the regular menu sections, two words are usually more than enough.
In general, it all comes down to the same reasons as the number of sections when visitors have a hard time to aggregate lots of information at once.
4. Submenu limits
How do you break the menu into parts to avoid over-saturation? Introduce submenu and combine sections into logical groups. As you already know, WordPress has all that it takes to manage submenu.
In most cases, you should be completely good with two levels and I would highly recommend you to stick with this number. Just make sure to combine sections into intuitive groups so your visitors are not surprised to find or not to find specific sections.
5. Always have links
I have seen websites with two level navigation and no links on the first level. This is one of the worst things you can do to your visitors and ‘blow below the belt’ for your SEO. Even your submenu sections are referring as anchors to the specific parts you can always, at least, point first level section to the submenu.
6. Take advantage of a secondary menu
WordPress has all it takes to create and edit a menu, the process is intuitive and fast – everyone can manage a menu easily. The more important is to do it in a right way and take into account all the practices that may improve your website.