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Have you ever visited a website looking for specific information and struggled to find it? Maybe you visited countless pages, but none of them told you what you wanted to know. You’re not alone! According to Forrester Research, 50% of potential sales are lost because visitors can’t find the information they’re searching for. That’s a whole lot of revenue potential going straight down the drain.
In all likelihood, the reason you couldn’t find that crucial information was because of the website navigation. The navigation may seem like a small, almost insignificant part of your website, but it actually has a huge impact on how effective your site is. If you haven’t already, you may want to take a few minutes to pay attention to your website navigation, and make sure it’s really working for your practice. Not sure what to look for? Here are 7 mistakes you should be avoiding:

Getting too creative with your naming scheme.

We get it. The temptation to make your navigation naming scheme creative is strong. You want to stand out, and that desire can lead practices to come up with all kinds of odd names for their navigation items.
However, one of the most important ways to keep pet owners on your website is to tell them exactly where to find the information they are looking for. And one of the best ways to do that is to keep your navigation clear cut and simple. Use wording that follows the convention of other websites, and employ terms that your viewers will be familiar with.

Having too many options.

Too many navigation options can confuse visitors and make it harder for them to find the key information they’re seeking out. Try to cut down the number of pages in your top level navigation. Consider which pages visitors will most want to visit, and what the primary goals of your practice website are (e.g., presenting your services, encouraging clients to book a visit or contact you, etc.), and design your top level navigation to achieve those goals.
Another way to avoid clutter is to group similar items together. For example, you can place “Resources” and “Pet Health Library” under the same navigation heading, because a pet health library can be considered a resource. Ultimately, we recommend keeping main navigation items to no more than 8.

Not having enough options.

Yes, this is also a mistake. While it is possible to reduce the number of items in your navigation down to 2 or 3, this may also cause problems. With too few navigation items, you may run into issues such as having too many sub navigation items listed under each main navigation term. If the list in your subnavigation is 10 items, you’re not saving visitors any time, because they have to read through that big long list to find what they’re looking for. While less is more, make sure you’re not cutting down so much that you’re leaving important items, such as the contact page or forms page, out of your top level navigation.

Using long names.

You only have a limited amount of space in your navigation bar, and shorter navigation names are easier to scan, so it’s important to ensure that you’re keeping the names of your navigation items short. Rather than using “Our Services,” just call it “Services,” and cut down items like “Food/Prescription Refill Request Form” to more simply “Request Forms,” or even just “Forms.” In some cases, you may need to add extra words for clarity (e.g., “Our Hospital” makes more sense than just “Hospital”), but wherever possible, keep it short and sweet.

Forgetting to tell visitors where they are.

Not everyone who accesses your site is going to get there through the homepage. If someone ends up on another page of your site, whether through your social media accounts or search results, make sure they know what page they’re on. Use large headings to indicate the title of the page (e.g., Services, New Clients, etc.) and enable breadcrumbs so they can find their way back through your website to the information they need.

Taking visitors to separate pages for images.

On some websites, when you click on an image, it takes you to a page that displays only that image. It’s unclear why any websites still do this, as it’s not particularly useful, can be irritating to visitors, and strands them on a page where their only option is to go back or exit your website altogether. Unless your images are leading to other pages, don’t link your images.

Forgetting to link your logo back to your homepage.

This is so common on websites that’s it’s actually disorienting when a site doesn’t operate this way. The logo in your header should also be a link back to your homepage. Even if you have a “Home” button in your navigation, your visitors are more likely to instinctively click on your logo. If it doesn’t do anything, that will force them to spend extra time searching for the home button in the navigation.

Not considering the order of your navigation.

Research has shown that users are most likely to remember and pay attention to the items at the beginning and end of the list. When it comes to your website navigation, this means that the pages you think will be most important to visitors should appear at the front and end of your navigation. Many practices use “New Clients” for their first navigation item, and “Contact Us” for the last, which is a great idea, since it helps new visitors immediately find the page meant for them, and makes locating contact information for your practice a breeze.This small aspect of your website could actually make a big impact on how effective your site is. The good news is, it doesn’t take much to fix any of these mistakes in your navigation, and once you’ve done it, you can just sit back and watch the results – no extra effort necessary!
 
Happy with your new navigation, but not with your overall website? Consider a WebDVM website! Our navigation is great, our optimized sites bring new visitors in, and our attractive customized designs let them know what your practice is all about.

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