The layout for a site’s navigation is an important web design consideration. The location of the navigation on a website greatly affects its usability. Navigation is intuitive when it’s properly positioned on a website. Users are able to quickly find the navigation, easily find information and navigate between pages. So what’s the best position for navigation: top, left or right?
There’s no easy answer to this question. Each website’s design and layout will largely determine the best position for the navigation. While some websites will benefit from a navigation bar at the top, others will be more intuitive with a side navigation bar. Work with your web designer to make the navigation as simple and intuitive as possible. Users should be able to navigate your website without thinking about it.
Unfortunately, too many websites fall short in terms of usable navigation. Usability.gov reports that 50 percent of potential sales are lost due to the inability of users to find the information they’re looking for on a website. Worse yet, users are unable to find the information they’re looking for on a site approximately 60 percent of the time. This means it is time for you to evaluate your navigation system. Is it located in a prominent position on your website? Does it help users quickly and easily find what they’re looking for within your website?
While there are no hard and fast rules for navigation placement, most web design standards recommend placing the menu horizontally along the top or vertically along the left side of the page. Web users are accustomed to this placement and will innately look for navigation menus in these two locations first. You might opt to stray from the standard, but top and left are best when you are looking to maximize usability on most websites.
No matter what position to ultimately choose for your website’s navigation, make sure it is consistent. The navigation menu needs to be consistent on every page throughout your site. Top, left or right positioning is less important than presenting a simple, intuitive and consistent navigation system for your site.
How can you improve your website’s navigation?