Ever land on a site and don’t know where to click? Feel like there’s no clear route you should be taking and you get lost in a sea of links to this and that? Do you get frustrated and leave? What if that’s happening to people when they visit your site?
This is such a common problem that I see all the time, even on websites that are absolutely beautifully designed–the navigation is thrown in as an afterthought, and visitors get lost.
Your website isn’t a Choose Your Own Adventure book, you should be taking visitors toward a specific goal, and have a clear path laid out for them. Here’s how to do that!
Step One: Figure out the ending of the story
Like the ending to a book, this is where we want visitors to end up last. If you have a blog, your ending might be to get readers to subscribe to your blog, or sponsor your blog. If you have a business your ending might be to get visitors to buy a specific product. Whatever your ending is, figure it out and keep it in mind when planning your navigation.
Step Two: Plan your chapters
Let’s say your story ending is to get blog sponsors. What actions do you need your visitors to perform before they’ll be ready to sponsor your blog? It will probably go something like this:
- Read my blog
- Get to know me
- See sponsorship stats and pricing
- Get in touch with me
That gives us our navigation outline and order, as well as tells us what content we may be lacking and need to fill in. Here’s how that translates to pages:
When visitors first land on your blog, they should see blog posts. This will be both your Blog/Home Page. Let readers dive into your blog posts straight away and see what your blog is all about.
The next thing you’ll want readers to do is get to know you–this will play a role in determining whether they want to sponsor your blog or not. Use your About Page to let readers know what your blog is about, how it benefits them, and a little about yourself.
If readers are clicking with your blog and now feel like they know you, they’re much more likely to want to go check out how they can sponsor you. Use your Sponsor Page to show off how many readers you have, page views you get, and benefits of sponsoring your blog.
Finally, you want potential sponsors to get in touch with you; either with sponsorship opportunities, or questions about sponsoring you. Make your Contact Page simple to use by installing a contact form (if you’re on WordPress, I love and recommend Gravity Forms [affiliate link]) so your visitors don’t have to open an email client. The simpler things are, the more likely people are to do them.
Step Three: Edit your book
If you’ve been blogging for a while, you may have pages that don’t add to the story or lead readers to the proper ending. You can either remove these pages entirely, edit them to fit the story (which may mean combining parts of the content with other pages), or move them to a separate navigation area on your blog.
Sometimes combining pages is a great idea. Do you need an entirely separate Press Page? Maybe. But could you also include it on your About Page, or Sponsor Page to give it more impact as part of your story? Don’t be afraid to try different things and find what works best for you. It’s your story, you get to tell it!
I like to put secondary navigation items in either a sidebar or footer menu. For example, maybe you have a great page of resources that your readers find useful, but that doesn’t work in the main navigation. You could add a link in your sidebar, link to it from your about page, or drop the link into your footer.
And finally, if it just doesn’t fit, get rid of it. Don’t have pages just for the sake of having pages–if it doesn’t fit with your blog or add to your story, cut it out!
Step Four: Publish your book
Now that we have our chapters written and organized, we need to lay them out on our site in the form of navigation. No matter what platform you’re using (Blogger, WordPress, etc.) you should be able to arrange your navigation in the proper order. While you’re at it, make sure your navigation is easy to find. For main navigation, I recommend either right above or below your header image. this makes it easy for visitors to find and consistent across all pages.
In the example above, your navigation would look something like this (with the Home Page displaying your latest blog posts):
HOME – ABOUT – SPONSOR – CONTACT
This simple navigation structure walks visitors right through the steps you want them to take, and keeps them from getting lost.
Step Five: Get to work!
Just reading a blog post about your navigation doesn’t do anything. You have to put in some effort! Start writing your story right now!
This post is part of the Design Your Own (Lovely) Blog, Blog Tour, which is a totally stellar movement that is aimed at supporting women around the world to create a life they love. It was organized by Marianne of Design Your own (Lovely) Blog, who has been helping women to create lives they love by giving them confidence when it comes to their own blog designs. Marianne’s goal is to provide economical DIY ways for them to get started and help them feel better about who they are and what they have to offer.
You can catch up with the entire blog tour here!