Amy Africa’s Practical Tips to Navigation Design

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This post is the second article in a series on Amy Africa’s e-commerce tips. View the five ingredients to the e-commerce magic formula here.

Say you’ve got the principles down, and you want to move on to tactics. Navigation is the clear starting point - it’s what matters most to revenues and overall success. Navigation counts for 40 to 60% of success on traditional websites, and 80 to 85% on mobile sites.

During a SiteTuners webinar, Amy talked about the elements that help make navigation solid - user-centered design, best practices derived from careful analysis of eye-tracking, and a healthy dose of word connect. Online marketers need to recognize that different users need different types of navigation - top, left, bottom, facets, and refinements and problem/solution:  

Prominent action directives are critical.

Avoid putting a lot of customer service stuff at the top; put them somewhere at the bottom. Putting “About us” and “Contact us” at the top navigation changes the logic of the site from selling to browsing.

There is no such thing as righthand navigation—it’s similar to dirving on the wrong side of the road or wrong side of the car. The righthand column is the the escape column. It’s where people look before they leave. If you don’t have a lefthand navigation, concentrate on the top navigation because it’s what people are going to see.

Word connect plays a big role in navigation. Pay attention to word choice and make sure every title and every field is appropriate. 

Problem/solution is the best you can do if you have a weak search function on a convoluted process.

Bottom navigation should be the same as the top navigation without the dropdown.

Perpetual and pop carts count as navigational items. Show a picture of a cart, the number of items, and the price of the items. “Checkout now” button should only appear when there are items in the cart. 

Highlight the things you want to give extra attention to.

Show the breadth of product line if possible. Make sure that your unique selling proposition is embedded into the navigation. A category should indicate the number of products available. This is part of reiterating your big things (e.g. speedy delivery, number of items, unique products, and exclusive stuff).

Most sites have too much or too little navigation. Amy’s research hints that bif people are using text search, it’s an indication that an item is not represented in the navigation. She reminds marketers that navigation should be constantly changing –what doesn’t work should be removed and what people are looking for added.

There are more takeaways from the webinar with Amy Africa, but if you only have time for the condensed version, stay tuned. 

Watch the FREE webinar.