The importance of navigation clarity and simplicity

October 1, 2012 by Leave a comment

One of the major faults a website can have, beyond not having valuable content, is having a poor site navigational flow. What I mean by this is, how many clicks does it take your visitors to find the information they're looking for. If you're unsure, you may be losing a significant amount of prospects because of it.

One of the most important things you can do to make it easy to navigate your site is to reduce the amount of clicks it takes to get from where they arrive at your site to where they want to be. To understand why, you must first understand how someone would arrive at your site in the first place.

One of the more important things to keep in mind is that not every visitor starts at your homepage and proceeds from there. Your website isn't like a standalone storefront where everyone has to come in the front door and proceed to the section they're looking for. Because of the way the internet works, it acts more like a mall than a standalone building. There's going to be multiple entry points to your site.

Hopefully, some of these entry points are going to be from organic searches done from a search engine. This works by having relevant information on your site that the search engine indexes. After it gets indexed, when someone types in their search terms for what they're looking for, the search engine looks at its index and displays the results for the prospect to review. The more pertinent the information, the higher on the page it displays.

For example, if someone is searching for a specific brand/style of shoe, if you have that particular shoe available on your site, the search results would provide a link to that specific page of your site, not your homepage.

Paid for searches may also be an entry point for your site. If you're utilizing some form of pay per click (PPC) marketing program, then you'd be able to specify which page the searcher would arrive at. Having that prospect arrive at your home page wouldn't be the best use of the traffic generated by your PPC efforts. I'll delve further into the reasons why in my next article.

A third possible way for someone to come across your site could be due to your offline marketing programs. Integrating your online and offline marketing efforts will only improve your results from both. What can really improve the results of both is having a landing page created specifically for each offline marketing package so you can increase the relevance of the information the prospect sees when they go from your offline marketing effort to your website.

A final way someone might arrive at your site is by referral. This method you really don't have any direct control over. This referral could be from someone telling their friends about your products and services, it could be from someone's blog entry, or it could be from some type of review site. Either way, it's traffic that you have no control over where it's coming from or where on your site they're being directed to.

So to review, web traffic can from:

  • Organic searches
  • Paid for searches
  • Offline marketing efforts
  • Referrals

Now that you know how someone makes it to your website, how they move around your site will be easier to understand. The harder it is for someone to find what they're looking for on your site, the more likely it is that they're going to click the back button and leave so they can look elsewhere.

Every time someone has to click on a link to find information, the more likely they are to leave your site. In other words, you're going to lose a certain percentage of visitors every time they have to go to another page to find the information they're looking for.

Ideally, you want the information they're looking for located on the first page they arrive at. Realistically, you want to aim for three or less clicks to get from where they arrive to where they want to be. This is especially important for sites that offer products for sale.

Think about sites like®. When you arrive at their site, they have popular categories listed on the left and a search bar on the top. Entering a search term returns relevant results based off of popularity and how well it matches the search term. Clicking on the link gets them to the page they want.

That's all done in 3 clicks. If it's what they wanted, they can purchase it in as little as one click. It might seem simple but it's a very important concept to remember when developing your site. Keep the navigation simple and limit the number of clicks a visitor needs to click on to get their information.


What do you think? How big of an impact do you think your site's navigation is having on either keeping your visitors on your site or causing them to leave for a site that's easier to navigate? I welcome your comments.

Click here to continue reading...
Published in Articles, General