It seems so elementary. Help your customer find what he wants easily and quickly. Right?
Then why do so many web sites have navigation structures that make it so easy for us to get lost? I was recently shopping online for carpet tiles and every single site that was recommended by Google and MSN were sloppy sites where I found it difficult to browse, much less actually buy anything. I could not even find my way to the Home page in most cases!
My hunch is that this occurs most often when business owners and webmasters are adding new sections or pages onto a site that already has an existing navigation layout. It’s much easier to tack on new pages and add them haphazardly to the navigation menu, rather than to re-think the structure of the site for the customer’s ease. When you’re creating a new site or adding new pages to your existing site, pretend you’re a visitor coming to your site for the first time. Ask yourself:
“How easy is it for me to find what I’m looking for?”
“How easy is it for me to view details of products once I find them?”
“How easy is it for me to buy a product once I’ve decided to purchase?”
My advice is to always spend the extra hour or two it will take to re-structure your site’s navigation so that it all makes sense. You will retain your web visitors longer, encourage return visits, and therefore sales.