Stop Confusing Your Web Site Visitors

by Guest Expert

When you plan your Web site, give careful thought to your site navigation - in other words, the menu "buttons" available on every page of the site to help site visitors find their way around.


Many Web site owners think about the colour, font and size of these buttons, but don't think carefully enough about how to arrange them logically for site visitors!

Broadly, there are four types of navigation ...

You can organise your Web site navigation in four ways:

1.    Your offerings - in other words, your main products and services

2.    The problems you solve for your site visitors

3.    The different target markets you work with

4.    tour of a particular product or service

Let's look at each in more detail ...


1. Offerings

The Offerings navigation is ideal when you're dealing with people who know what product or service they want, so they don't want to go through a complicated process to finally get to the right product or service.

For example, Peter Dhu's Web site menu is organised around his three main services - workshops, coaching and speaking (click the picture below for a full-size version):


This is correct for Peter's business, because his site visitors know which service they want. For example, somebody who wants to book Peter for a conference presentation probably won't also want his one-on-one coaching.

2. Problems

If your site visitors don't yet know what they want, a Problems navigation style might be better, because they do have a problem. So they can start by clicking the menu button that matches their problem, and you then lead them on a path to a suitable solution.

For example, David Penglase has identified five key problems he solves for his clients, so his site navigation is based on those problems (click the picture below for a full-size version):

If you're planning to use a Problems navigation for your site visitors, be sure you do know their main problems! Otherwise, you might be focussing on minor problems, omitting the major problems, or even identifying a "problem" that doesn't exist in your site visitor's mind.

3. Markets

If you work with a number of different niche markets, and there isn't a lot of overlap between them, consider a Markets navigation style, which helps your site visitor immediately jump to the area of the site that's specific to them.

For example, Peter Cook works with three markets - experts (thought leaders), business owners and individuals seeking financial independence - so his site navigation clearly takes first-time visitors on one of these paths (click the picture below for a full-size version):

If your niche markets are very different from each other, you might even consider creating a separate Web site for each.

4. Tour

If your Web site features just one product or service, use a Tour navigation, which simply takes the site visitor on a "tour" of that product or service. It's like having one long sales letter, but broken up into different pages.

For example, my own "Build Your Web Site In Two Days" Web site promotes a two-day workshop, so the site navigation is designed to take people on a tour of the workshop (click the picture below for a full-size version):

These Tour-style sites were rare, because it was expensive to invest in a separate Web site for just one product or service. But now that the cost of building Web sites is so low, it is feasible to build a Tour Web site for each of your main products or services.

Which navigation style is right for you?

If you've never thought about your Web site navigation style before, you've probably used the Offerings style, because that is the most obvious. That might be right for you, but take a few minutes now to check whether it really is the most useful for your site visitors.

Gihan Perera




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