What is the first thing you should have to think about when you land on a new website? Ideally, nothing. A well-designed website should offer menu and navigation options that allow you to find what you’re looking for with as little effort as possible. Menus are less flashy than other elements of website design, and can be easy to overlook. However, they are actually one of the most important aspects of the user experience.
When your website design is grounded in smart design choices, you have a much better chance of achieving your website sales and marketing goals. Ahead, I’m going to let you in on some of the web design secrets that make for great menus, and an even better user experience.
Menu Design Tips for an Easy to Use Website
Your menu design is crucial to the overall function of your website. Most menu design mistakes are easy to make when you’re getting started, but also easy to spot once you know what to look for.
- The size and location of your menus are both very important. Menus are typically the first thing website visitors look for, so they need to be easy to find. Make sure your menus are large enough to stand out, and avoid using text that is small or otherwise difficult to read.
- For location, you want your menus located in the places where people will instinctively look for them. That means they should either go in the left bar, or at the top of the page. Most users will look to the top of the page, first.
- Colors should be chosen with contrast in mind. The text of your menu should contrast with the color of the menu button, and the menu button should stand out from the rest of the page. For fonts, simple and familiar is the way to go. The concepts of menu design and flat website design share much in common.
The basic tips above will go a long way toward creating effective menus, but there is still more work to be done. If you’re having any trouble visualizing these concepts, try visiting (and navigating) a few of your favourite websites with your new menu knowledge in mind. You might be surprised by what you notice.
- The user’s current location is an easy part of menu design to overlook. Users need to understand their current location in order to know where to go next. Be sure that your menus tell users where they are, not just where they can go.
- Menus, like web content, should always be easy to scan. Help users understand where to go next by providing clear, familiar labels for your menus links, and be sure to organize your categories effectively. If you need to add context, images and multimedia (in moderation) can help familiarize readers with your menus.
- Most websites offer a variety of menus, depending on what type of content the user is looking for. To improve the user experience, it helps to create menus that incorporate related content, to match the way that users move through your site when researching key topics.
- Don’t forget about mobile. Be sure to make your menus large enough that mobile users will be able to use touch commands without accidentally clicking the wrong link.
- Sticky menus appeal to mobile users especially, but are useful on any screen when a page is long. A sticky menu remains at the top of the screen, no matter how far the user scrolls through the content.
- Finally, try to avoid making your menus too short, or too long. Short menus make it hard to click links accurately, while long menus result in the user not being able to see all of their options.
Creativity is an important aspect of web design for your Calgary business, but simple is better when designing menus. Basically, when I’m laying out a menu, my key concern is organizing content so that the user will always be able to understand where to go next, and how to get there. Following the proven, effective concepts of menu design is the best way to meet that goal.
Need a hand with your web design? Emphasize Design of Calgary has you covered. Get started with more information on our web design services, and learn how inbound marketing can bring more customers to your door (and website!).