What is the Best Way to Organize Website Menus?

What is the Best Way to Organize Website Menus?

By Maddie WeberMar 26 /2012

When someone asks, "What's the best way to organize my site?" we often conclude that it's putting the most relevant and useful content at the forefront—the virtual-equivalent to "putting your best foot forward." Your website could likely be the first (or possibly the last *cringe*) impression of your business, so it should explain what you do, how you do it and who you do it for, as succinctly as possible. The navigation of your website should mirror this structure and do so in a way that your visitors understand it inherently.

Start by answering the following questions:

  • What pain points do my visitors have?
  • Where do your visitors want to go?
  • What's the most uniquely viewed page?
  • What pages have the longest view time?

What pain points do my visitors have?

Understanding your visitors' pain points will dictate your website structure. Your site should have content to help visitors solve a problem, and it should be easy for them to find that content.

Where do your visitors want to go?

Visitors usually want the most relevant, timely content. So the best page for that might be your blog, since blog content should be fresh everyday. Another example could be a resources section full of downloads and videos that would help your visitors better understand the solutions you offer.

What's the most uniquely viewed page?

You'll have to use an analytics program to see your data, but if more people go to one page than any other (baring the home page, of course), then that page should probably be second in your menu items. For instance, "Our Services" as a menu item might cause visitors to see that as the exact answer for their question "What do you do?" —which translates to, "Can you do what I need?" Try to answer that question as soon as possible.

What pages have the longest view time?

If visitors are continuously visiting or staying on your page for around 1-2 minutes that might mean people are actually reading your content (yay!), so that's a page you'll want to feature. This page might be your blog, a careers page or your recent news. Either way, this page is clearly causing engagement with your visitors, so keep it at the top.

Once you have these questions answered, you should have a better idea of what content matters most to your visitors. If you're just starting out or you're looking to restructure your site, consider the following guidelines of what most visitors expect to see and where they expect to see it.

website menu navigation

Conventions for Website Organization

  • Logo area (upper left corner) - The logo area should always link to your home page – you could also consider including "home" in the courtesy navigation, but it’s not crucial to have it in the main menu.
  • Courtesy navigation (upper right corner) - This is a "courtesy" to your visitors, so you should consider including a link to "About," "Contact Us" and/or your phone number. Visitors look to the upper right corner for quick access information. So answer the questions: Who are you? What do you do? How can I contact you?
  • Main menu (across the top) - The main menu is your prime real estate, so don't waste it. This area should consist of no more than seven links across your site and should be the pages that answer all the questions above—and also solve the pain points for your visitors. Things like "services" and "current clients" are also fine to include here.
  • Footer (below your content) - When visitors are on a mission for a way to connect with you, they will scroll to the footer to find your address and information. They expect it. Lastly, while adding a custom footer might be all the rage right now, it doesn't have to be a carbon copy of your entire site navigation. The footer should include standard information, such as your copyright information, your privacy policy, a link to your careers section and your social media engagement platforms.

Finalizing the Structure

Organizing your website navigation should be an ongoing process. Try it, refine it and get input from your current customers; they probably know your website structure better than you do! Remember that you're not trying to confuse your visitors, so keep the structure simple and easy, and keep the focus on your content and solutions.

We'd love to hear what menu items your website can't be without! What have you tried before? Do you use courtesy navigations? What's your footer like?

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