Whether you realize it or not, a website’s navigation bar is one of the most important elements of the site. It’s at the top of the page, so it’s the first thing users see when they land on your site, and it’s where they look to get around. A navigation bar is just that – navigation, it’s like the signs on the road that people use to get around town. Without one they’d just be clicking along without rhyme or reason.
People always have a variety of things on their navigation bars, and some people even have two. Some choose to keep it simple like I do with just a few links, while other’s put their whole category hierarchy there. There really is no right answer when it comes to navigation bars, you just have to figure out what works for your site and your readers. But, there are a few links that readers expect to see in the navbar, and if they are missing, readers could get frustrated and leave.
You’ve likely been in this situation if you’ve landed on a website that you want to know more about, but the About link isn’t in the bar where you expect it to be. Or you want to get in touch with a company and you can’t find the customer service or contact link. If you make sure you have these four links in your navbar you can avoid making these mistakes and keep your readers satisfied and on track no matter where they are on your site.
When a reader lands on your site and is intrigued by something they read or see, the next step is that they will want to know more about you. On a blog the first place they will look is in the navbar for an ‘About’ link or in the sidebar for a profile image and a blurb about you, with a Read More link to the About page. Either way, if they don’t find what they’re looking for, they’ll get frustrated and leave.
It’s important to remember that readers have a very short attention span and are lazy. That’s not an insult to readers, we’re all like that, but we’ve been conditioned to expect certain things in certain places, and when they’re not there, we are frustrated and give up.
Another one of the most important pages on your website is your Contact page. It gives your readers a place to reach you if they ever have any questions about your content or your product, or if they just want to get in touch to say hi. When your readers have this kind of inclination, you want to make it as easy as possible for them to do so. Like I said, their attention is short, so if they want to get in touch and can’t immediately find a place to do so, they’ll give up. You need to have a Contact link from and centre in your navbar to make it as easy as possible for them to reach you.
I realize that not everyone has a blog on their website (you should if you don’t – Here are 7 Reasons You Need to Start a Blog Right Now!) But if you do have a blog, it’s vital to have a Blog link in your navbar. All blog readers are expecting to see a blog roll – a place where all the latest posts are shown like my blog page, and if they can’t find that it will frustrate them. It’s all good and well to have gorgeous category layouts and a really well organized hierarchy, but some readers just like to keep it simple with a blog roll, and you need to make that easy to find for them.
Now I know this one’s a bit of a surprise – but a Home link is really vital to have on your navbar. On most blogs the default setting is for the logo or header image to link to the home page, and readers expect that. But, you have to be prepared for readers who don’t know that is the standard, but still want to find your home page. Make it easy for them with a simple Home link. A home page gives your readers an idea of what your site is about, and is a place for all the most important information about your brand. If your home page is your blogroll rather than it’s own landing page, having Home and Blog would be redundant. Choose one based on what kind of readers you have and what kind of site you run.
Are there any other links you think are necessary?