“Three stories from my life.” Began Steve Jobs at the 2005 Stanford Commencement Speech. Inspirational then. Still inspirational and relevant today.
“You can only connect the dots looking backward”… “You have to trust that your dots will connect in the future.”
“You’ve got to find what you love”… “Keep looking. Don’t settle.”
“Death is the single best invention of life”… “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.”
“Stay hungry. Stay foolish.”
Steve Jobs Stanford Commencement Speech 2005 (14:34)
Want to make a customer happy even before s/he becomes your customer? Make your website site navigation easy to navigate. It’s really low-cost marketing and even easier customer service.
A website’s navigation is important for several reasons. It helps visitors find information faster and more efficiently. It can also help search engines understand what you consider important on your site.
First make sure you get the basics down by making available a sitemap (a webpage on your site displaying the structure and a hierarchical listing of all important pages on your site, otherwise known as HTML sitemap) and a Sitemap (a file submitted to and utilized by major search engines to easily discover pages on your site, otherwise known as XML Sitemap.) Here are a few easy ways to ensure your navigation is user friendly:
- Create site navigation that flows naturally from general content to specific content. This means giving the readers an overview of the subject matter before showing detailed information. Do this without forcing readers to make too much effort in finding what they want, including making them click through 4, 5 or more levels down from the top. I would recommend no more than 3 levels deep in your navigation.
- Create site navigation that is not complex where all pages are linking to all other pages. If this is the case, then each page will be laden with navigation links, crowding out your real content. Practice selective linking by using keyword rich text links within your content to relevant pages when appropriate.
- Create site navigation using mostly text instead of images. Search engines especially like text content, and this will aid them in going through your site to find them. You can do your site a real disservice if you only use drop-down menus, images or animation in your navigation.
- Create site navigation with breadcrumbs links to help readers see exactly where they are on your site at any time, and to quickly go back up the navigation structure. A typical breadcrumb navigation (below) starts with a “Your Are Here:” or some other similarly user-friendly phrase, and is normally located just under your site’s navigation/header area, and above all main content.
- Create site navigation that gracefully handles errors, incorrect urls, nonexistent pages, and the ‘page not found’ faux pas. One way is to ensure these problematic pages will be taken care of by a custom 404 page. Your custom 404 page then will kindly guide readers on what to do next, including offering a list of popular links on your site, a search box to find the content, or other suggestions. In any case avoid having just the “Not found” showing, or even worse, no 404 page, leaving your readers stranded. Here’s a link to nowhere on our site which will serve up our custom 404 page.
It’s all about making it easy for visitors to find what they want. It’s no different from providing easy way for customers to find products a brick-and-mortar store. They’ll love you for it. This is low-cost marketing and easy customer service.