Site Architecture & Navigation Tips

A leafy hedge maze

One of the issues we work with our clients on most often is their site architecture. This, in its most simple definition, is the organization of a website. This organization is most obvious in a website’s navigation. The user can see what the company or person is offering by the links shown. Where RedTree comes in is when a client is not displaying its site architecture properly in its navigation, or the site architecture overall needs help. Following are a few tips that may help in the construction of a site architecture and the corresponding navigation of a website.

1. Simplify

My number one piece of advice would be to SIMPLIFY. This is one of those rare instances when more is not better. Often when a company doesn’t have clear-cut services or messaging, it can be tempting to squish all the stuff into the website, which leaves the user to figure out what is what. The user should never be placed in that situation. It is in the company’s best interest to control where the user goes, and the easiest way to do that is to have a clear and understandable navigation. If there are too many links for a single one-line navigation, introduce a top bar and break the links up into logical primary and secondary divisions. Another suggestion would be to create a mega-menu.

2. Use The Right Words

Companies can get caught up in their internal way of thinking of their services or industry and that can translate into the language used on their website, more specifically, titling for pages and navigations. The words used should be what their audience would best understand or recognize, not what the employees use. For example, at RedTree we used web design or even just design instead of getting into specifics because we recognized user experience and user interaction had little recognition outside our industry. As a matter of fact, we continue to use design in some capacity, as the amount of real-world comfortability with UX/UI is still too small for our liking. We want to cater to a broader audience.

3. Highlights

What if you are a non-profit that functions mainly on donations, or a service company whose best asset is its 24/7 customer service? These are areas that should be highlighted in a website and if done correctly, will highly benefit the company. Unfortunately, those opportunities are not often taken advantage of. Call-to-actions are one way to optimize these assets, but another way that can be done in tandem would be to highlight them in the navigation. This can be done through simple styling like using a button or a different color for the links. This brings us back to the point of our first tip. Direct the user where to go – control the flow!

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