Website Navigation Trends To Watch (Out) For

Navigation is something you don’t even notice until you get lost on a website or get annoyed by the website menu sliding out and blocking the content. Yet, 94% of consumers admit that easy navigation is the most useful website feature.

Sometimes people who plan on making a business website, concentrate mainly on the content. But the truth is, most of today’s users are not looking for content. They’re using your website to swiftly navigate to the products or services they want. 

There was I choosing some cat food on the local pet shop website. Okay, Cat => Dry Food => Choosing a brand => Out of stock => OK, back => A pop-up banner with some special deal => Click on Conditions => Shipping and delivery… How did I end up here and where the hell was I supposed to go? And the logo didn’t even lead to the front page!

Bad website navigation means people getting lost on a website

That’s one of the natural consequences of bad site navigation design. The ultimate goal of any page is to turn leads into customers. That is why navigation mistakes are expensive. Poor web navigation will result in fewer users. Website navigation is fundamental to UX design.

Good navigation amplifies usability. As stated in a survey done by Tony Haile at Chartbeat, a striking 55% of users spend fewer than 15 seconds actively on a page. Not much time to engage a user!

Arm yourself with the knowledge to avoid making common mistakes and revitalize your website to compete with others. This article will show you some fresh designs and cases when you’d be better off not using them.

Best practices of website navigation

A website that’s easy to browse provides users with quicker and more efficient access to the content they want. People like spending their time a website with an unambiguous menu structure that makes it easy to maneuver between pages. They might even enjoy it. Here are the safest navigation principles and elements.

Consistency

The menu should be present on every page and in the same place so as your users would be able to find their way around with ease. As stated in the survey done by Hubshout, 33% of users will leave a site that is difficult to navigate. That’s a bummer.

A consistent navigation system helps navigate the website even if it is in Chinese. See the familiar pattern below?

Hamburger menu

Yes, we all well remember the Hamburger menu controversy back from 2014. Like it or not, but the hamburger menu is a useful instrument. It makes the UI cleaner. It’s recognizable (remember those three lines in the corner of the screen which when clicked will provide you with a menu? This is it). It presents users with direct access to the pages they want without proceeding through all the stages in some predefined order.

Hamburger web

Hamburger Side Menu by Lukas Majzlan

Simplicity and conciseness

The more concise your navigation is, the more home page authority will flow to interior pages. It makes them more likely to rank well in the search engines. In other words, it’s good for SEO. In a study conducted by BrightEdge, they found out that 51% of all website traffic comes from organic search. That’s 51% of your potential customers.

Also, being the engine that drives your website, your navigation should be predictable and simple. Navigation is like your site’s skeleton. It better be strong and healthy.

Patterns

Originality is great but be wary on this point when you design a navigation structure. You don’t want to reinvent the wheel here. At least, not too much. There are certain web conventions and the reason they exist is that they work. People are used to them. As Steve Krug once said, “Don’t Make Me Think”. Don’t make your users think too much and get frustrated. 

Then again, it’s a great idea to sometimes go against the flow when done right.

“I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.”

― Douglas Adams, The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul

It’s your tricky job to locate an exact point where the two intentions connect. Users ending up exactly where they feel like they need to be and where you need them to be to reach your goals in business. 

Edgy navigation trends

Now let’s see what’s currently trending in the domain of site navigation and what features can you use to freshen up your website and make it more functional.

Fixed navigation bars 

This is a type of site navigation where the menu bar is “glued” to some part of the screen (usually the top, though there are also some sticky footers out there). It doesn’t disappear when you’re scrolling down and provides access to the menu at all times. This type of navigation is accessible from anywhere and increases brand awareness if it contains the company’s logo, and improves SEO as users tend to view more pages for a single visit.

What can go wrong

Sticky navigation is fine but make sure it doesn’t block any content.

Vertical sliding navigation

As opposed to the horizontal one, vertical navigation is better for phones and tablets and gives more free space for the menu. An expandable nature of this type of navigation menu makes it a perfect choice for e-commerce websites.

What can go wrong

If the menu is too long, some parts of it may get cut off or it can happen to occupy too much screen space. Also, vertical menus get less attention and clicks in comparison to horizontal ones.

Subtle animation

This point is about visual appeal and elegance, and not usability. Look at how this motif works in the example below. That’s like adding a carefully selected accessory to your usual look. It adds glamor and charm and also makes the whole concept more lively and fun.

What can go wrong

“Subtle” is the key! When not done properly, animation can distract users and even prevent them from navigating your site. Before adding an animation, ask yourself if it serves a purpose on the page. Here are some useful thoughts on the subject of meaningful animation.

Animation is one of the website navigation trends

Tab Bar Animation by Hoang Nguyen

This or that/Four corners

This is a clean and beautiful idea. Try to divide users’ attention in two or four directions. It’s simple and a user doesn’t get dumped with a gazillion options to choose from. By limiting your user’s choices, you can make your website easier to use and promote its conversions.

What can go wrong

This may only be a viable option for websites with limited content. What’s more, users are not very well accustomed to this kind of navigation yet and might get confused.

Single page navigation

This trend is among the most popular nowadays. It’s great for websites with lots of visual content, it grabs attention, it’s great for phones. And scrolling is easier than clicking.

What can go wrong

Single pages have some drawbacks with SEO – they are generally supposed to be designed around one main concept, which limits your ability to rank for a wide variety of keywords. It also gives less freedom for the user as they are stuck with the necessity to get the information only in some particular order.

Single page website navigation

Web and interaction design by Vilius Vaicius

Bottom navigation

This is another part of the thumb-friendly navigation trend. Well, not just any trend. In 2019 it’s essential. It became just as important as responsive design. Also, bottom navigation is easier to reach with your thumb.

What can go wrong

The bar takes up too much space on the screen. The other problem stems from the previous one. As a workaround, designers can make the text too small and indiscernible.

 

Fat footer

Another bottom of the screen element. A standard footer usually contains a small amount of information like contacts, copyright notice, social media icons, a few links. A fat footer contains far more useful information. It can sometimes serve as a secondary or even primary menu, extending the website’s functionality.

What can go wrong

Actually, few people ever notice footers.

Large and experimental navigations

Going against the trend is in itself a trend. Experiments like large and full-screen navigations are in vogue and becoming more and more popular. Designers make navigation the main part of website design and its focal point. Even going as far as to make it represent the design itself. This kind of navigation guarantees a well-defined page structure and gives a lot of free space for creative ideas. On top of that, it is mobile-friendly.

What can go wrong

Again, use originality with caution, users may not be prepared for some of the most modern design ideas. Besides, it lowers loading time.

In conclusion

There are over 1.5 billion sites on the web today. And although only 10-15% of them are active, the number is still massive. In today’s global marketplace, it’s not enough to have a presence on the web. To capitalize on opportunity and get real customers, a website must offer an engaging and robust user experience.

The website navigation design has to be impeccable. There’s no other way around it. Implementing the right navigation setup for your mobile and desktop sites can transform your UX and boost business.

If you have any questions on the subject, don’t hesitate to get in touch with a professional and experience-backed team of designers.

 

Web & Mobile UI/UX Design
Not a programmer design. Pretty, efficient, and fully implementable
Written by Kate Shokurova
October 10, 2019

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