How to Optimize Your Navigation Bar

The Huddle
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Why is a navigation bar important?

The navigation bar is important because it is one of the first elements of your website that visitors see when they land on your page. We all know the saying that first impressions matter – and the same goes for your website! If your navigation bar is difficult to use and does not serve its intended purpose, that is an easy way for your bounce rate to skyrocket.

What should be included in the navigation bar?

Navigation bar styles will vary from niche to niche, but at minimum, every navigation bar should have a logo, menu, and call-to-action. By optimizing these elements,  the navigation bar’s usability will drastically improve along with your website analytics.

  1. The logo should always link back to the home page.

Within most web designs, clicking on the logo will bring the user back to the home page – most people know this, so this is seen as a design standard across all sites. Jakob’s Law states that people spend most of their time on sites other than yours, which means that they bring their expectations from other sites when they visit your site.

  1. Make sure your logo is visible at different screen sizes.

Your website should remain functional at any screen size, especially smaller screen sizes such as a cell phone. In 2021, the number of unique mobile internet users stood at 4.32 billion, indicating that over 90 percent of the global internet population use a mobile device to go online. Ensure your logo is always properly viewable so people become familiarized with your brand.

  1. Use a vectorized format (.svg) to not lose image quality.

Using a vectorized format ending in .svg will ensure you do not lose image quality. Particularly for your logo, obtain a vectorized image file that will not lose its resolution at any screen size. Make sure your logo designer provides this file type in the Deliverables.

  1. Don’t overcrowd your navigation bar with too many links.

It’s important to keep the user experience at the forefront of your mind, so it may seem counterintuitive to remove links that you think are helpful from the visitor. In actuality, it’s better to have fewer links as to not overwhelm the visitor with too many options. Take advantage of submenus or combine pages to help reduce the amount of links in the navigation bar.

  1. Try a floating navigation to always keep links visible for visitors.

A floating navigation (also known as a sticky menu) “sticks” to your page and follows the user as they scroll through the site. Floating navigations are useful for sites with longer site pages or when the navigation bar has important information for web users. Be mindful of your floating navigation bar’s height – you don’t want it to take up too much landscape and block your website content.

  1. Test out micro-interactions with hover states.

Micro-interactions that connect the user and design can be easily incorporated onto buttons and their hover states. Micro-interactions are useful because, if done correctly, they can make for a positive experience and memorable user journey. Micro-interactions can also apply emphasis to elements that can further visitors down the sales funnel with hover states specifically on call-to-actions.

  1. CTA examples: schedule a consultation, book a call, get a quote, get started.

When a visitor gets to your site and they’re ready to embark on a business journey with you, what would they want to see? This is your time to put yourself in your target audience’s shoes and imagine how they’d want their user experience to be. For some niches, there may be a lot of window shopping, so having a “get a quote” CTA would be useful compared to a CTA requiring commitment such as “schedule a consultation”. 

  1. Use color psychology to make your CTA stand out and be memorable. 

Color psychology, or the way humans interact with colors, is critical not only for your brand but also for your website elements – one of them being your CTA. Use colors that will attract your visitor’s attention but not be distracting and take away from the overall web design. Use colors that have high contrast but do not clash.

  1. Find a good balance – your CTA should be neither obnoxious nor inconspicuous.

Your CTA should blend well with your design but not blend in. Having a CTA that is too “out there” may turn off your visitors from wanting to click on it. On the other hand, having a CTA that is completely hidden within the web design may impede visitors who can’t find it. Similar to a floating navigation, a sticky CTA may also be a good idea to maintain visibility.

Navigation bars are a critical part of the web design as well as the user experience, so having an optimized navigation is key for website analytics. These simple tips can easily improve the looks and usability of your navigation bar for a seamless user journey.

PC: Nataliya Vaitkevich