Website navigation needs to be simple, easy to use, and intuitive you don’t want your viewers to have trouble finding their way around. When navigation is too complex, they often tend to abandon the site altogether, which can result in negative sales or marketing for your brand. A good website navigation design can help keep these visitors on your site.
One of the first steps in website design is deciding on a method of navigation that reinforces and does not distract from your site’s purpose, CTA (call to action), or product. There are numerous types of website navigation to choose from, and it can be difficult to know if you are choosing the right one for your site. In this guide, I’ll cover some of the most popular methods of navigation to make this decision a little easier.
Types of Website Navigation
If your site is on the smaller side… Standard Navigation Bar
If you want to display a lot of navigation information at once… Mega Menu
If you’d like your navigation to be more graphic… jQuery Script Navigation
Standard Navigation Bar
A standard navigation bar is the type of navigation you are probably most familiar with. It’s what most websites use for displaying a small amount of information. A standard navigation usually appears horizontally across a page or vertically in a sidebar. Links usually feature a “roll-over” state, wherein the appearance of a link will change when a visitor holds his or her mouse over it. Sometimes, a drop-down navigation is incorporated to allow related links to be shown alongside (or under) a main link. Standard navigation bars are usually constant across all pages of a site, and allow a visitor to quickly access information without a change in the interface. This is the most “expected” type of navigation; there’s something to be said for immediate understanding.
Doesn’t take up much real-estate on a page
Offers a compact use of space
Doesn’t allow for extensive navigation
Visitors may become confused or frustrated by drop-down animations
Some drop-down animations may not be cross-browser compatible
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Mega Menu Navigation
A large drop-down/popup menu allows for a huge amount of sub pages to be displayed along with additional information or design elements. Commonly used in retail or with companies with larger service offerings. Mega menus can be designed to act almost as sites-within-sites.
Lots of links are shown at once for easy reference
Can include other text or even images
Eliminates need for a third level of navigation
Menu can become too big, and can actually be larger than the user’s browser
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jQuery is commonly used to create sliding navigations. These can look like embedded slideshows (with moving images and/or text) or can dynamically expand an otherwise standard-looking sidebar navigation (called an accordion slider). An accordion navigation features a group of sub-navigation links that are hidden in a collapsible panel. This sub-navigation is revealed upon roll-over or click of a main navigation link. Usually, only one panel is allowed to open at a time, but this can be modified to allow multiple to open at once.
Can add interest and movement to a site
Can give a page a simple and effective “upgrade” with included animation
Keeps information easily accessible, without the need for scrolling
Could hide information that should be displayed constantly
Care must be taken to assure cross-browser compatibility
If your site has a more unique structure (if it has many pages-within-pages, or if you’d like your visitors to be able to find specific information quickly) there are other types of navigation available to you. As always, we can help you decide what type of navigation is right for you, whatever your unique needs may be.