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Sean Giles / Monday, 25th July 2022

User Journeys and Website Navigation – Everything you need to know (Part 1)

A lot of the time you’ll hear words like user journey, navigation and occasionally something about hamburgers to do with the two? Confused? You don’t need to be, following our recent webinar, we’ve broken down everything you need to know in this two part blog so you can make the right decisions for your website. 

So, what is a user journey? 

When someone visits your website, they often have a reason. Maybe they want to find out more about you or they’re looking for contact information. When a website is being designed, it’s important to consider how easy it is for a user to get to a specific set of information and make sure that it doesn’t take them long to find what they are looking for. 

 

What about navigation? 

Put simply, navigation is the process that a person takes when using a website, page or app to find desired information or take a desired action. It can take multiple forms, such as:  

Using a URL as the path to the page on the server

  • The url that the user is on tells the website which content to display to the user

Internal and external links

  • Navigation links can move a user around a single website or take them away to external websites
  • Best practice for external links is for it to open in the same browser tab although many opt for the external website to open in a new tab, leaving their website in the original tab

Good navigation is key for user experience

  • According to a Clutch survey, 94% of consumers say that easy navigation is, the most important feature on a website.

 

What are the different types of navigation? 

As you’d expect, there are a number of different types of navigation. Some will be better for mobile, others for apps or websites. Below, we’ve listed the 5 most common types and why you might want to use them. 

Global menus (header and footer)

The most common menus used on websites are header and footer menus, meaning that users know where to look for information. Typically they have a fixed list of links for the user to choose from and don’t change based on the page you’re on. 

Sidebar menus

You’re probably used to seeing these on eCommerce websites or web-applications/Sass websites and are a pretty straightforward way for users to find what they are looking for. 

Links (Non-menu)

When you add any link to your website, you’re adding navigation as it gets a user from one place to another. Whether it’s content for a page or a news feed on the home page it still counts! 

Breadcrumb

These are great when it comes to usability and letting users easily see where they’ve been to get to that current page, which is why they’re seen a lot on eCommerce and information based websites. 

Hamburger (mobile)

Aside from making us hungry when we think about them, these menus are key for mobile as they don’t take up a great deal of screen space initially. That said, they’re also becoming more popular on desktop sites as a main or auxiliary menu. 

 

What does navigation have to do with the user journey? 

Think about it, when you go to a website there are few things more frustrating than having to trawl through a website and jump through multiple hoops to get there. 

When planing a website, mapping out the user journey goes hand in hand when planning the navigation of a site and it’s incredibly important to get this righ, as previously mentioned. 

By mapping out the step by step journey that a user takes to reach their goal, which often consists of a number of website pages and decision points that carry the user from one step to another, you can consider ways to make it as quick and easy as possible. 

For an existing website you may map out the current journey a typical user might take to reach their goal. This journey is then redesigned to form an ‘ideal’ user journey free from frustration. Traditionally this takes the form a flow diagram demonstrating each page and decision point throughout the entire process.

 

What’s the best navigation structure? 

The truth is it really depends. When you’re considering your navigation structure there are a number of questions that you need to ask yourself such as: 

  • What sector are you in?
  • Is your website service based or eCommerce? Is it a SaSS service?
  • What is your objective with your website?
    • Create more leads?
    • Sell more products?
    • Be a source of information (thought leadership pieces)
  • How do the majority of your website users access your website? It is mobile or desktop?

 

Want to know what you should put in place when planning your website navigation? Keep your eyes peeled for part 2, where we’ll be sharing our top tips. 

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01Good fit?

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02Your brief

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03The process

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