Please Help! I'm Drowning in Your Website Navigation!

By Chad PollittFeb 10 /2011

Inbound Marketing MenuHave you ever been to a restaurant and were handed a menu that was overrun with items for you to choose from?  You know the ones - the menu is so large you don’t even know where to start.  All too often this is the case with website design and user interface (UI).   

Visitors to a website are there to be entertained or to solve their problems - quickly.  This, above all other inbound marketing concepts should be the factor that drives a website's strategy.  The home page of a website should function as the first entry point in your company's sales funnel regardless of how the visitor came to arrive there.  Once a visitor lands on a website that landing page only has four seconds to communicate to the visitor what they need to click on to solve their problem.  In the vast majority of websites the most traveled landing page is the home page.

Utilizing simple segmentation call-to-actions above the fold to communicate to visitors what they need to click on to solve their problems is ideal.  Segmenting visitors into a sales funnel should always be done with one, three or seven grouped call-to-actions.  This will depend on the company's goals and the products or services the company is selling.  In addition, segmentation provides for a clean and clear transition for the visitor to enter step two of a company's inbound marketing sales funnel.

Websites that are designed without a proper segmentation strategy tend to ignore the four second rule.  Remember, visitors are on a website to be entertained or to solve their problems - quickly.  When possible, designers and developers should minimize the number of items on a home page that can be clicked on.  These items should only include segmentation call-to-actions and standard web conventions.  Otherwise, a website visitor will be faced with hundreds of links to click on and having to decide which one will best solve his or her problem.  That's a lot of decisions to make in four seconds.

Inbound Marketing Sales FunnelAbove is an example of a very nice looking website design that has a very poor sales funnel.  Visitors to this site are faced with hundreds of decisions to make or links they can click on - all within four seconds - on the home page!     

Some companies will argue that hundreds of links and decision points on their website's home page are important to their business.  They may be important, but they should never all be presented on the home page.  Maybe the company's goal isn't to drive sales but to provide a wealth of information to their existing clients or the community.  This is fine, but consider segmenting visitors with a targeted call-to-action or a portal.  Successful websites should always provide a clean and clear path for visitors to engage so they can solve their problems - quickly.

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