Free Assessment: How does your sales & marketing measure up?

Get Started

Free Assessment:

How does your sales & marketing measure up?
Take this free, 5-minute assessment and learn what you can start doing today to boost traffic, leads, and sales.
Get Started
Carly Stec

By Carly Stec

Feb 25, 2015


Marketing Strategy
Marketing Strategy

4 Tips for Optimizing Your Website Navigation For the User

Carly Stec

By Carly Stec

Feb 25, 2015

4 Tips for Optimizing Your Website Navigation For the User

Optimizing_your_website_navigationThink of your website's navigation bar as the vehicle for all of your website traffic.

Not only are all of the important bits and pieces of your website connected to it, but it serves as a passageway for visitors to get from point A to point B.

Trouble is, if it's not functioning the way it should, all of your content is at risk of collecting dust. 

Aware that the usability is enough to make or break the lead generating capabilities of your website, it's critical that your navigation is optimized for the user.

What does that mean?

We've detailed four important tips that will help you generate a better understanding.

1. Consider the order

Alphabetical? Importance? At random?

Determining how to structure the order of your website navigation can be made simple by leveraging a tool like CrazyEgg to track the way in which visitor's are behaving with your website. Here's an example of what we're talking about:


With a better understanding of what people are actually clicking on, it's much easier to make a data-informed decision to determine the way in which they should be ranked. 

While this data is certainly valuable, you'll also want to consider the "serial position effect", which states that people are more apt to remember the first and last items on a list

The reason being that items that appeared early on are distinguished from the others as a result of the primacy effect. Conversely, the items that fall at the end of the navigation remain in the short-term memory, also known as the recency effect

2. Create contrast

Quick. Which navigation stands out more?



(I'm going to assume that was an enthusiastic, resounding, "the first one!")

When it comes to creating a user-friendly website navigation, contrast is key. A navigation that blends in with the rest of the design, is a navigation that doesn't get clicked. 


Contrast helps to create a level of interest, which ultimately works to direct the eye and ensure that the navigation elements aren't confused with the main content

3. Limit the number of menu items

Let’s say you’re looking to send your Aunt Pearl a nut basket to celebrate her acceptance into the local gardening club. (You go, Aunt Pearl!)

You input a quick Google search and land on this website:


Holy nuts.

With an astonishing 34 clickable items in the vertical navigation, it’s hard to decide what to look at first.

To avoid this overwhelming approach, Orbit Media’s Andy Crestondina recommends limiting the number of items in the navigation bar to seven.

Why seven?

The short term memory can only hold up to seven items at once, making anything more difficult to process. 

4. Don’t complicate the coding

Whether you understand code or not, it's important that you understand this...

If you want to make it easy for Google's bots to crawl and index your pages, you'll want to code your navigation in HTML or CSS rather than JavaScript, Flash, or AJAX. 


Google can't crawl what it can't read.

HTML is server-side, meaning that the information is generated on the server before the user visits the page.

With something like AJAX, the content doesn't ever exist on the page. Instead, it's rendered on page load because JavaScript is a client-side language. The trouble with this is that things that are rendered post-page load are not seen by Google.

To help clarify, here's a simplified diagram from Web Design Depot that explains how AJAX works:


Point being, if you're going to spend the time to carefully create a user-friendly website navigation, you want to make sure that you're using the right code to ensure your pages actually get picked up by Google. 

Free Assessment:

How does your sales & marketing measure up?
Take this free, 5-minute assessment and learn what you can start doing today to boost traffic, leads, and sales.

Related Articles

What Should a 2024 Content Marketing Strategy Include?

September 21, 2023
Mandy York Mandy York

HubSpot Pricing: Your Guide to Everything HubSpot Costs

August 24, 2023
Will Smith Will Smith

Why Trust Is the True Currency for All Business

August 9, 2023
Marcus Sheridan Marcus Sheridan

10 Marketing KPIs You Should Be Tracking

August 3, 2023
Carolyn Edgecomb Carolyn Edgecomb

How To Become a Better Business Coach

July 31, 2023
Allison Riggs Allison Riggs

Do You Need a New Website? Maybe Not

July 19, 2023
Vin Gaeta Vin Gaeta

How to Create a Content Map To Solve Your Marketing Guesswork

July 6, 2023
Brian Casey Brian Casey

Inbound Marketing vs. Content Marketing: What's the Difference? 

July 3, 2023
Brian Casey Brian Casey

How To Do a Competitive Analysis In 5-and-a-half Easy Steps

June 29, 2023
John Becker John Becker

Why Hiring a Coach is the Surest Way to Spur Business Growth

June 28, 2023
Bob Ruffolo Bob Ruffolo

Marketing Coach vs Agency: Why You Need a Coach for Real Success

June 26, 2023
John Becker John Becker

LinkedIn Could Become Your Most Powerful Distribution Channel

June 22, 2023
John Becker John Becker

Content Copycat: What To Do When Your Website Gets Copied

June 15, 2023
Christine Austin Christine Austin

My Best Sales Reps Haven’t Hit Their Quotas All Year: What Do I Do?

June 7, 2023
Marcus Sheridan Marcus Sheridan

7 Must-have Word-of-Mouth Marketing Strategies [Infographic]

May 8, 2023
Ramona Sukhraj Ramona Sukhraj

What Small Business Leaders Need To Know to Thrive During a Recession

April 19, 2023
Marcus Sheridan Marcus Sheridan

5 Keys to Marketing Your Business During a Recession

April 17, 2023
Ramona Sukhraj Ramona Sukhraj

Should Your Demand Gen Strategy Change in a Slumping Economy?

April 12, 2023
Nick Bennett Nick Bennett

Demand Generation vs. Lead Generation: What’s the Difference?

April 10, 2023
Kristen Harold Kristen Harold

How a Lack of Sales and Leadership Buy-in Is Killing Marketing Morale Worldwide

March 6, 2023
Marcus Sheridan Marcus Sheridan

Website Conversions in 2023 — STOP, START, KEEP

January 25, 2023
Vin Gaeta Vin Gaeta

Sales vs Marketing in 2023: What’s The Difference?

January 5, 2023
Marcus Sheridan Marcus Sheridan

How To Set Content Marketing Goals for Growth

December 29, 2022
Brian Casey Brian Casey

Should You Hire An Agency to Create Your Content?

December 12, 2022
Marcus Sheridan Marcus Sheridan

24 Essential Questions for Understanding Your Ideal Customer (+ Infographic)

December 1, 2022
Dia Vavruska Dia Vavruska