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10+ Best Practices of Intuitive Website Navigation for Store Branding

GemPages Team
Updated:
5 minutes read
Best practices of intuitive website navigation for store branding

One often overlooked yet crucial aspect of effective branding is intuitive website navigation. A well-organized and user-friendly navigation system can greatly influence a visitor's perception of a brand and significantly impact their overall shopping experience. This article outlines 10+ best practices to achieve a seamless and memorable user journey.

1. Simplify and Prioritise

Streamline the main navigation menu only to include essential categories. Prioritise items that align with the brand's core offerings. Avoid overwhelming users with too many options.

Screenshot of the Vapor95 navigation menu.Vapor95's menu focuses on primary categories to avoid overwhelming customers with an abundance of choices.

2. Clear Labelling Menu

Use concise and descriptive labels for navigation items. Avoid jargon or overly creative names that might confuse users. Clarity is critical to helping visitors understand what each section offers.

3. Hierarchy and Structure

Organize navigation items in a logical hierarchy. Group related items together and utilize dropdown menus for subcategories. A structured layout guides users and allows them to navigate intuitively.

Screenshot of OUAI menu.OUAI's nominal side navigation menu groups related items together to help customers easily find what they are looking for. 

4. Search Functionality

Screenshot of Searchanise search functionality.Easily locate your desired items by using the Searchanise search bar.

Implement a prominent search bar that is easily accessible from any page. Include a "Search History" or "Recent Searches" feature that lets users quickly revisit their past search queries. Allow users to explore your product catalog by offering pre-defined search queries, such as "new arrivals," "best sellers," or "clearance items." Consider implementing voice search functionality to accommodate users who prefer to speak their search queries. Another suggestion is complementing auto-suggestions that provide real-time recommendations as users type in the search bar. This helps users find relevant products faster and correct spelling errors.

5. Visual Cues

Screenshot of visual cues example.Capture customers' attention and aid navigation by featuring the most popular items with distinctive colors in the heading and CTA buttons.

Use visual cues such as icons or images to aid navigation. These cues provide a visual representation of the content and make it easier for users to identify where they want to go. Highlight selected or focused elements with visual cues like borders, shadows, or background color changes. This helps users understand their current interaction. Design CTA buttons with contrasting colors, clear labels, and enticing text encouraging users to act. You should also maintain a consistent design language throughout your website. Use a cohesive color palette, typography, and design elements to create a unified and visually pleasing experience. Implement subtle hover effects on interactive elements like buttons and links to indicate their interactivity and encourage engagement.

6. Consistent Placement

Keep the main navigation menu in a consistent location, typically at the top of the page. Users are accustomed to this placement, and changing it could lead to confusion.

7. Efficient Filtering and Sorting

Screenshot of the Best Choice Products filter and sort bar.Best Choice Products' customers can effortlessly filter items by type, price, color, and size.

Users can quickly refine their search results by applying filters (e.g., price, size, color) and sorting options (e.g., relevance, price, popularity). Provide real-time updates when users apply filters or change sorting options. Display a loading indicator to let users know that results are being updated.

8. Breadcrumb Navigation

Breadcrumbs show users their current location within the website's hierarchy, helping them backtrack or move forward in their browsing journey. Decide on the type of breadcrumbs that best suit your website's structure. There are three main types:

  • Hierarchy-based breadcrumbs: Show the site's structure, helping users understand the relationship between pages.
  • Attribute-based breadcrumbs: Display attributes of the current page, like product categories or filters.
  • History-based breadcrumbs: Show the user's path through the website, allowing them to backtrack easily.

Think about how users navigate your website and where they might need breadcrumbs the most. Place breadcrumbs in strategic locations based on user behavior.

Screenshot of creating a breadcrumb with GemPages.Simply create a breadcrumb by dragging and dropping the element in the GemPages editor.

 

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9. Guided Selling

Create interactive questionnaires or quizzes that help customers narrow their options based on their preferences. Ask questions about their needs, style, budget, and other relevant factors. Offer the opportunity for customers to connect with a human customer support representative, especially if they have more complex or specific needs.


10. Test and Iterate

Continuously monitor user behavior and gather feedback to identify pain points in navigation. Regularly update and refine the navigation structure based on user preferences and behavior.

11. Responsive Design

Screenshot of GemPages responsive design.GemPages ensures the responsive design across devices: desktop, tablet, and mobile.

Ensure your navigation system works seamlessly on all devices, especially mobile:

  • Use fluid and flexible grid layouts (e.g., CSS Grid or Flexbox) that automatically adjust and reorganize content based on screen size. This allows your website to maintain its structure while accommodating different devices. 
  • Include the viewport meta tag in your HTML to ensure your website scales properly on mobile devices. This tag helps control the initial zoom level and viewport dimensions. 
  • Design your website with a mobile-first mindset. You can start by creating the mobile version of your site and then progressively enhance it for larger screens. This approach ensures that the most essential content and features are prioritized for smaller devices. 

Learn more: Discover why online stores should prioritize a mobile-first approach in website design.

  • Conduct user testing to gather feedback from users interacting with your responsive website. This helps identify any usability issues and areas for improvement. 
  • Ensure that buttons, links, and interactive elements are appropriately sized and spaced to accommodate touch gestures. Avoid using small elements that could be difficult to tap accurately.

Learn more: Mobile Conversion Optimization: 10+ Proven Tactics (2023)

12. Loading Speed

Image Optimization for Shopify is an effective way to fasten the page loading speed and make your online store look professional:

  • Use image formats like JPEG for photographs and PNG for graphics. 
  • Specify image dimensions in HTML to prevent layout shifts while images load. 
  • Implement lazy loading for photos and videos. Only load media as the user scrolls down the page, reducing initial load times. 

Learn more: Shopify Image Optimization: 11 Easy Ways

Screenshot of GemPages image settings.Effortlessly optimize the image within GemPages' settings section.

You also can consider some other ways to optimize the page loading time:

  • Optimize your server performance by choosing a reliable hosting provider, using server-side caching, and minimizing database queries. 
  • Minify CSS and JavaScript files by removing unnecessary spaces, line breaks, and comments. 
  • Combine multiple CSS and JavaScript files into fewer files to reduce HTTP requests. 
  • Review and eliminate unnecessary plugins and widgets that slow down your website's performance.

Learn more: How to Increase Shopify Store Speed: 11 Effective Ways (2023)

 

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13. Accessibility Considerations

Choose color harmonies to ensure readability for users.Souce: HTML Color Codes

Create navigation with accessibility in mind. Choose color combinations with sufficient contrast to ensure readability for users with low vision or color blindness. Avoid relying solely on color to convey information. Another thing to remember is to select easily readable fonts and provide options for users to adjust text size. Use relative units like percentages or ems, which allow text to be resized without breaking the layout.

Wrapping-Up

In conclusion, intuitive website navigation is a cornerstone of effective store branding in the e-commerce realm. By focusing on enhancing user experience, promoting brand perception, ensuring consistency, and reducing bounce rates, a well-designed navigation system can significantly contribute to a positive brand image. Implementing best practices such as simplification, unambiguous labeling, hierarchy, visual cues, and responsive design will guide users seamlessly through the online store, fostering trust and leaving a lasting impression. In a competitive online marketplace, mastering intuitive navigation is essential to building a successful and distinctive brand.

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About Inkathon

This article belongs to the Inkathon, an illuminating series focused on eCommerce. This series offers a comprehensive repository of expert knowledge, informative case studies, and practical use cases that help you gain valuable eCommerce insights.

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