The biggest strength of WordPress as a content management system is also its biggest weakness. That strength is the ability to build a professional looking website without any formal web development training. How is it weakness? Because it sometimes leads to website owners ignorantly creating sites that actually do more harm than good. A case in point is website navigation.
User statistics routinely show that internet users are easily distracted and rather impatient. If they cannot find the information they are looking for quickly, they have no compunction about leaving a website and searching for that information elsewhere. A primary goal of the website owner should be to create a navigation system that directs users to the desired information as quickly and efficiently as possible.
How navigable is your WordPress site? If you don’t know, take a look at these four points and compare them to what your site offers. If you are lacking in any of them, your site is not as navigable as it could be.
1. Limited Page Requirements
It isn’t necessary to limit a website to a specific number of pages. There are sites on the internet with literally tens of thousands of pages. But – and this is a big but – the number of pages a user has to visit in order to find relevant information should be limited.
You have heard the old adage that says, ‘the shortest distance between two points is a straight line’, right? That is what your visitors need. Whatever information they are looking for should be discoverable by clicking through no more than 3 to 4 pages.
2. Clear Navigation Labels
Navigation labels include things like menus and sidebar links. Labels should be clear about where they are directing users. For example, the ‘Blog’ item in your main menu should immediately direct readers to your main blog page where short descriptions of your most recent posts can be found. You can use a sidebar widget to categorize your posts by date, topic, etc.
3. ‘You Are Here’ Labels
Go to your favourite shopping mall and look at any directory. You will find an arrow and/or label that tells you exactly where you are in relation to the rest of the complex. Your website needs that same kind of navigation. You need to use effective labels and breadcrumbs to tell visitors where they are and how to navigate to where they want to go.
4. On-Site Search Function
It is nearly impossible to create a perfect website that flawlessly meets all the previous three criteria 100% of the time. Therefore, you need a catch-all function that visitors can use to find their desired information if all else fails. The best means of providing this function is with on-site search. There are plenty of plugins for adding this functionality.
If your WordPress site is easily navigable, your visitors will find what they are looking for quickly and easily. They are more likely to come back in the future as well.