The next part in our series on when to take your website live covers the topic of navigation. Your users need to be able to get to the information on your website as easily as possible to encourage them to hang around and see everything your site has to offer. What follows are goals to aim for and things to think about in order to setup or improve the navigation on your website.
1. Are links labeled with anchor text that provides a clear indication of where they lead?
Anchor text is another name for a description of where the link goes. This is important because it gives your users more information and helps them decide whether to click on the link or not.
2. Depth – what is the maximum number of clicks it takes to reach a page within the depths of the site?
The fewer the maximum number of clicks to get to the information on your site the faster people can find what they are looking for.
This criteria is important for accessibility and search engine optimization reasons. Search engine robots cannot read images or flash so having the text-based alternative allows them to know what your content is.
4. Responsive on Click feedback – Is a response given immediately (0.1 seconds) after a click is made on a hyperlink?
5. Do clickable items stylistically indicate that they are clickable?
Basicly, the links need to be a different color, underlined or identified as links in some fashion.
6. How intuitive is it to navigate? Are signs obvious or obscured? Buttons/Links Like Text, that are not clickable and vice versa, links/buttons that cannot be identified as such.
If your users cannot figure out how to navigate your site in the first 10s of looking at it they are likely to bounce. Everything that looks like a button should be a button and everything that looks like plain text should be plain text. Mixing formats confuses your users and makes it hard for them to find what they are looking for.
7. Readability (somewhat addressed already), type face, font size, etc.
Can your users easily read all parts of your website? If you select a font that may look cool but is hard for some people to read then your site may not be ready for the web. If the colors of the text and background make it hard to read then users will find another site to visit instead of yours.
8. Clear statement of PURPOSE of the site?
Purpose must become clear within a few seconds without reading much or no text copy at all. The purpose should be above the fold (the point at which a user has to begin scrolling down the page).
9. Is there a call to action on every page? Are there dead ends?
You need to give your users something to do on each page. It could be “Click Here” or “Fill out this form for more information,” but you need to engage them or they will bounce. Good: Special of the month a free widget. Better: Call now to take advantage of our special of the month, a free widget.
10. Is a logical sitemap available? If not, is a keyword-based search feature available?
Some people like to use sitemaps to get a sense for where the content is on your website. There are a number of free programs that can generate a sitemap for you. For your users to be able to see the sitemap it should be in html format, however, for Search Engines to be able to read the site the format should xml.