6 Mistakes to Avoid in Website Navigation Design

Neeraj Charaya | 2nd June 2017

Perhaps the most common mistakes which can go wrong in website design is in navigation. Often, some simple change can result in improving sites where users can find what they are looking for.

Here is a list of most common mistake which you will see in website navigation. This can easily be rectified once you recognize them.

Many choices

When you have a lot of content and especially when your site has evolved incrementally over a period of time, it is easy to end up adding too many options in a navigation system which results in user in finding most important information at times.

It’s important to keep top priority goals for your site so that it doesn’t end up creating clutter and perceived complexity.

We suggest keeping less and useful/most important items in the top navigation to not more than six items, as an absolute maximum, eight items.

Interaction design which is hard to use

There are basically two primary aspects:

  • Flyout menu that open to the right either from a vertically orientated main navigation bar or drop-down menu.
  • Horizontal drop downs that cannot be seen when you are not covering them.

Both of the aspects create the same drawbacks as a user has to move his cursor more carefully in a horizontal way to choose out the required thing and if gets overshoot then the thing gets disappear.

Our recommendation is to avoid any sort of flyouts as this can happen in vertical dropdowns also, so it is better to use dropdowns which persist for a fraction of a second if the cursor moves beyond the drop-down area.

 Being different

It is a good and safer zone for being different. I was going through some restaurant websites which were not different than others but they made their navigation system so unique that it resulted in a most usable site like somewhere using rows of button down the page and somewhere showing pictures on their homepage so that user can click to a particular page to get navigated.

Website navigation page is to be conventional and give users what they expect. Use of creativity in a right direction by keeping its look, well working, right items and following the same patterns which everyone expects.

Being clever for your own benefit

Another variety of wasted creativity is making up clever names for the things that everyone knows. The creative name may make creative directors and copywriters happy but they have nothing to do with your site visitors.

“Give us a shout out” instead of contact. “Bag” instead of the shopping cart can be used.

Importance of Terminology

Another common mistake is to use an organization’s “well known” internal terminology for navigation links.

You may have company division called ‘Industry services’ and ‘CMK products’ but that term will mean nothing to your site visitors who are trying to find out something about what you do.

Dead ends

Don’t allow users to go down any dead-end path:

  • Include the main navigation bar on every page so it’s always available.
  • Don’t link images to a page that displays only the image with no navigation. Use a lightbox instead to maintain context.
  • Don’t link the pages which are under construction. Remove them from navigation until they are ready.


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Neeraj Charaya

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