Website navigation is the act of moving around your school website using main menu’s, drop down options, side bars and internal links to different pages within your site. Your website navigation needs to be easy-to-use, easy to understand and help parents find the information they are looking for quickly and effortlessly.
The topic of website navigation however isn’t a straightforward one, especially when websites are not your area of expertise. Luckily, Juniper Education are the experts when it comes to website navigation and great school websites in general. We’ve put together a list of best practises to help you get to grips with the intricacies of school website navigation to give your users the best online experience that reflects the amazing work your school does.
What is website navigation?
We’ve briefly touched upon what website navigation is above, but in a nutshell, website navigation is the act of clicking and looking through the various pages that make up a website to obtain information. Users navigate websites using a web browser and clicking on links that move them to other pages within the site.
Why is website navigation so important?
Providing a positive user experience to your online visitors demonstrates a well thought out website. One of the best ways of achieving this is by having a navigation menu that is clear and intuitive to use. An effective school website should strive to ensure that someone can always find the information they are looking for seamlessly.
An online user is likely to become frustrated if they struggle to find what they are looking for quickly. This can lead to a negative online user experience and give them a bad impression (which could be their first) about your school.
Good website navigation doesn’t just serve the user in the fact that they know where to go next for the information sought, it also helps search engines, such as Google, by helping them understand the information on your website. This in turn can help with SEO rankings, drive website traffic, improve time spent on the site and number of pages viewed and ultimately, the overall impression of your school.
Website navigation generally boils down to one easy rule, to ‘keep it simple’. However, it’s also about knowing your audience and housing information and documents in the places where your users would expect to find them. This leads us nicely on to the first of our six best practise tips:
1. Start with a simple site map
If you don’t know where to begin with your website navigation design, start with a site map. A site map is a list of all the pages on your website. Start with your primary headings along your main menu and then build on the pages from there.
2. Know your audience
As aforementioned, your website and its navigation should be built for and around your users. Consider what pages they are likely to want to view the most, what information they will need to see and the best way to help them find it.
3. Use short menu titles
Long menu titles take up space and can cause a user to become overwhelmed. Use short menu titles where possible but use words that are relevant to the information found within that page.
4. Less is more
Just as too many words in menu titles can overwhelm the user and clutter navigation, so can too many options. Simplicity is key!
5. Go mobile
Responsive website design adjusts the layout of a website based on the device the user is using to view it. Your website should adjust to create an optimized experience for the user, whether they are a small handheld mobile device or a larger desktop or laptop. Keep this in mind while positioning your menus.
6. Keep upgrading your website
A website can always be improved upon and is considered a work in progress. Use these best practices for website navigation design to improve user experience, boost SEO and give your school the best chance to shine online.
Ready to improve your website navigation?
We’ve been creating school websites for over 40 years and with more than 7,500 schools and trusts within our website portfolio, we can help you put your school website in the spotlight and give users the best online experience possible.