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The navigation is the primary element with which people use to find information on your site. A couple of questions you need to ask about your navigation as you go through it. Number one, is it clear? Does it use words that are used by your searchers and by your web site users? Would it be practical to re-write some of these terms? Can you do it in concise terms that won't cause your navigation to be too long or use too many words? So, how practical is it to be changed, and what could be changed? There are a couple things that you can do to test your navigation and ensure that is usable and understandable by your users.
Specially for larger sites, this is an exercise that should be done regardless of whether or not you're optimizing, because this is a matter of making your website more usable for users. So, a couple of practical things that you can do is, number one, go back to your navigation and go back to your keyword research. Start grouping your terms and the words according to the categories that you have found in your keyword research. Categorize the information on your website using the research tools that you have.
And then, develop some very clear category names for your navigation. Now, there's two exercises that you can do to help you realize if you've got a good navigational structure or one that needs work and you'll need some help with this as well. I find maybe getting some family members, some employees, other people that you work with maybe people that are familiar even unfamiliar with your website. What I like to do, is take every sub-topic of information, every page and the topic of that page, and write down that topic on a post-it note.
And so what I've done, is created specific categories, and then I ask people to take all of the topics and organize them under my specific categories, and that is a closed card sort because I define the category and I'm asking people to assign information based on that. But in doing that, I can also get a sense of how important the category is and how I should organize the sub-category. As you can see when we are looking at our hiking keywords, I have Northern California keywords and Southern California keywords.
Maybe, I should organize my navigation based on north and south. Maybe, I should also organize it base on destinations. Or, should I just make a sub-navigation of destinations and add those in. It all depends on the amount of information you have and how many options your going to put in. My rule of thumb is I never like there to be more than five to seven options in a subcategory. More than that is too overwhelming and people don't read it.
Less than that, it can be a combined with another category that has less than five options. So, that's where I usually sit in creating categories and subcategories. Is looking for those five to seven options that everything else can fit under. Then I go back and look at the navigation. Are you using the correct words in your navigation? And do your subtopics match the information that's contained? And is it logical? Having another set of eyes, and some input from other people, in how they organize the content, can be very eye-opening in making sure that you are presenting the best, logical approach to the information, rather than guessing.
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