The purpose of your navigation menu is to help your visitors find their way around your website. You want the user experience to be easy and enjoyable, eliminating any confusion or frustration that will deter them from your website. The best way to approach designing this business website element is to make your navigation menu simple and straightforward. In most cases, it's also best that the navigation menu doesn't take up too much space.
Since every business is different, navigation menus vary from site to site. Most websites should keep menu choices to a minimum. A large online store like Pottery Barn is an exception to the rule, however a small e-commerce site should resist the urge to use this format as it may make it difficult for your customer to easily find what they are looking for, as well as make your site look cluttered. Instead, consider using a "Shop" menu option or a few choices based on product category.
You may want to consider using your footer for additional navigation menu options that you don't want to clutter the header with. It also removes the need for visitors to scroll back to the top to find the menu. Take pharmaceutical giant Glaxo Smith Kline’s website as an example: they have a very clean design, with a simple but eye-catching top navigation menu, then used their footer to make sure that visitors were able to find and easily access key pages on their site. They organized menu options in columns based on categories, and also included social media icons with links and social proof in the form of a badge highlighting their number one ranking as a leading website.
Pro Tip: When designing your navigation menu start small and make providing visitors with what they want most a priority.
Header Image or Video vs. Slider
Your header image is likely the first thing a visitor will see when they go to your business website. This business website element sets the stage (and expectations) for the user experience they can expect throughout your site.
In most cases, choosing a header will come down to either having a large static image or video at the top of your homepage, or including a slider that shifts between two or more images/videos.
While there's been much debate in the digital world about the effectiveness of sliders, many experts say they distract from the user experience and site's content. The rule of thumb for many web designers is to avoid too much movement. If you do decide to use a slider, keep in mind that when poorly executed they can cause confusion, or worse frustrate visitors, causing them to leave your website. They can also cause some unforeseen problems. For example, if you place text over each sider image you have to make sure the slide is timed right to allow visitors enough time to read and process your content. Another issue is that sliders don't always display well on mobile, even if they look great on desktops and laptops. If you're dead-set on a slider discuss it with your web designer, who can help you to set it up properly and troubleshoot any problems that occur.
Whether you're consider an image, video or slider, it's a good idea to ask yourself these questions:
- Does the imagery speak to my brand? Every image or video on your website should serve a purpose (not just fill space) and reflect your company's branding. If it doesn't, scrap it.
- Is every image or video powerful? High-quality imagery builds trust, while low-quality pictures look unprofessional.
- Do you really need three, four or five images in a slider? Instead, adopt a less-is-more mindset and focus on the most important aspect of your website–its content.
When it comes to header images and videos, always make sure that you use high-resolution imagery that looks good on any screen. Done properly, image and video heads can effectively grab your visitor's attention and prompt them to take action. If low-quality, they can draw attention away from important information or your call-to-action.
Luxury home product maker Furrion, used a striking product image that blends well with the rest of their website. Their use of similar dark images and video on the homepage creates a strong sense of cohesion as visitors scroll down the page. Their image choices allow them to incorporate text overlay in a way that provide a seamless look. That aesthetic carries over to their entire website.
Pro Tip: Use clear, readable fonts. Text in a header must be readable at a glance. Use words that are short when possible, and choose fonts that are clear in a relatively large font size, stylized fonts can be harder to read.
A call to action (CTA) is one of the most important business website elements. It tells your visitors exactly what you want them to do. To be effective your CTA must be designed to stand out from the rest of the content on your business website. Since calls-to-actions help you drive visitors to convert to customers they should be visually attractive, action-oriented and easy to spot on your business website pages. Done well, your CTA will attract new leads, convert existing leads into customers and/or promote sales, downloads, events or anything else you offer.
Starbucks draws customers to its coffee rewards program with an unusual dual CTA, offering the option of signing up on their website or using their in-house star codes, which are earned by purchasing qualifying Starbucks products at local grocery stores.
Pro Tip: Take Advantage of FOMO. Fear Of Missing Out, otherwise known as FOMO, is an extremely effective motivator. When people think they might lose out on an opportunity that might not come around again they’ll be mighty quick to hop on the bandwagon.
With so many options to consider, even the most basic website design can be overwhelming for all the best web designers. By having the right plan and execution and making sure to include these business website elements you'll be well on your way to building an engaging, effective website that displays beautifully and functions well on everything from desktops and laptops to tablets and smartphones.
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