11 Website Navigation Dos and Don’ts

Have you heard of the K.I.S.S. principle? 

Initially it stood for Keep It Simple, Stupid. But don’t think calling people “stupid” is generally helpful when you’re trying to get them to follow your way of thinking. So, let’s change the acronym to one of the other popular variations, like Keep It Short & Straightforward.

The term is a reminder for those who design systems to err on the side of simplicity. It’s easy to overcomplicate a process and make it harder for the user to operate. Any time you create resistance in the approach you’re bound to lose people along the way. So, K.I.S.S.

One of the guiding principles in our work with wedding pros on sales, pricing, and websites is to remove as much friction as possible. We help business owners create ways to make it easier for your best clients to buy. 

Unfortunately, websites are filled with friction in the form of complex solutions to simple problems. Here are a few we see regularly:

  • Script font for headlines that make it hard for skimmers to read

  • Calls-to-action that aren’t easy to spot because they’re small, clever, or off to the side

  • Link to Instagram as the CTA at the bottom of a home page, instead of cover images for your portfolio or blog

  • Calling your pricing an “investment,” can snap people out of emotional autopilot and get them into analytical mode

Anything related to pricing on your primary navigation is damaging.

Your main menu guides visitors to website content. Do you really want them to skip over all the good stuff and go straight to the one thing that you don’t want them focused on? 

Devoting an entire page to price and linking it in the main navigation is easily one of the worst things you can do on your website. 

KISS your navigation

But there are more mistakes in the navigation that will kill inquiries. Here’s a list of ways you can overcomplicate what should be very simple:

Thin line weight. Please, please, please. Make it easy to read the words in your menu. Go bold on your font-weight in the navigation so users can easily recognize what they’re seeing. 

Small font size. See above. Don’t hide the menu with letters that are small and hard to find. Make at least 16 font.

Words on image/video. It’s easy for words on an image or video to camouflage themselves against a similarly colored background. Even well-placed words move around when screen size responds to different devices and desktops. Put the words on a solid color bar instead.

Two or three words for one menu item. Don’t make people work hard by reading more than necessary when they want quick information. Choose one word for each page link. 

More than six menu items. Don’t overwhelm site visitors with too many options. Try to keep it under six. One tip to help is by making your logo (in the center or on the left) link to the home page.

(Over)used submenus. It’s hard enough to make a choice on a menu. And then when you do, you get yet another menu to have to choose from? The goal of the top menu is to get them to the next page in the journey, not have them know all the available options from the start. Use submenus only if absolutely necessary.

Clever page titles. Why get clever with the words on your navigation? It’s an arrow to the next step, not a place to get creative. We recommend home, about, services, portfolio, blog, and contact.

“Contact” buried in the middle. Speaking of this page, don’t make it hard to contact you, because that’s the #1 goal of the site. If you want to make it even easier, turn it into a call-to-action (CTA) button with a color that contrasts the background. The user’s eye will non-consciously recognize it as a CTA and intuitively desire to click it (a good thing).

Mobile menu, not a “hamburger.” Images are worth a thousand words, but if you’re not using three lines to indicate the navigation menu on your mobile site then it might be costing you thousands of dollars in lost bookings. Go with an image people expect and can recognize quickly, and the hamburger menu is it.

Include social media icons. You’ve worked so hard for them to get to your site, why encourage them to leave and get sucked down the rabbit hole of IG or Pinterest? Put these at the bottom in your footer instead.

Move the navigation from the top. People expect to see the navigation on the top of the home page. Not on the side. Not in the middle. Put it where it’s easy to find.

Remember, Keep It Simple and Straightforward. The navigation menu is not the place to innovate on your website. Don’t overcomplicate a process that needs to be easy for people to use. Be creative in other places, but use these 11 tips will keep people on your website – and eventually in your inbox.

It’s always easier - and more successful - when you have an expert guiding the way. Reach out to schedule a 1:1 session with sales, copywriting and business strategy expert, Sam Jacobson. You’ll leave the conversation feeling confident about your next big move.

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