The common website mistake you’re probably making [from a professional web designer]

Simplify your website menu: The common website mistake you’re probably making [from a professional web designer]

We recently began offering a Website Audit service here at WanderWeb to help our fellow entrepreneurs, analyzing their websites for technical, user experience, and SEO issues. 

WanderWeb’s mission is to help businesses grow, and this is a way we can support those who can’t quite afford a new website right now. 

In this post, I’m going to share the issue I see in almost 100% of websites we audit that:

  1. Costs you sales or conversions
  2. Confuses your visitors

Here we go.

Start by heading over to your homepage, Homey, and take a look at your menu.

I almost always find more than twelve links in a menu bar. I get it. You want to make sure content is not buried deep within the site. 

The thing is, our brains prefer stuff that is easy over stuff that is complex. 

People love a seamless experience, so I spend a lot of time explaining the following to stakeholders:

“A complex menu makes your viewers go to your competitor’s website.”

Let’s put it in perspective. 

Remember that really long email you set aside for later? The one you eventually just crossed your fingers and deleted? (I know it’s not just me).  

As Donald Miller, author of StoryBrand, says, “If you confuse, you lose!”

Make your user’s lives easier by making your site easy to navigate and easy to use. Your menu should have a maximum of five to seven items. That’s it! 

Pro tip: Your website pages do not need to originate from the menu

You might be thinking: 

How will anybody ever discover a crucial product buried four levels down? 

Also, what do you do with a page that could sit under multiple sections? 

What if the user looks in the wrong place?

We got you. 

Here are my favorite ways to to simplify your website menu: 

Shortcuts: Instead of a menu dropdown, consider shortcuts to highlight important content placed deeper in the site structure. I like to use pictures with headlines that users can click on, like we did for Whitney Wreath. You can also use icons and badges. 

This technique cleans up your menu while following the intuitive flow of your website—images by Story Silo Media.

 Don’t forget your footer: The website footer is the section at the very bottom of a web page, typically containing a copyright notice, link to a privacy policy, contact information, social media icons, and an email sign-up form. I like to put a contact form here and sometimes list pages that aren’t quite “menu-worthy.”

Body links: It’s easy to forget the humble body link. Clickable links are a powerful way of highlighting a page on the site, no matter how deep in the site it is buried. 

Blog: This is my go-to solution for a complex website, where topics, updates, events, and items can be featured. Because guess what? Every blog post is essentially its own special snowflake webpage. 

Here’s an example of how we simplified a busy menu:

Good information? YES! Is all of it pertinent and necessary? ALSO YES!

Now, let’s streamline the user experience: 

Let’s nerd out with the deets:

0. Home (your landing page is linked to the logo, so no need to have a home or welcome button): 

The copy should clearly outline what the site is about and what the viewer will benefit from being on the website without scrolling.

1. About: 

This is your brand story, what you are all about, told from how the viewer will benefit. The viewer is the “Hero”. You are Yoda. You can feature the BOD at the bottom of the page.  The contact form can be added to the footer of your website.  

2. Experience [Town Name]: 

Here is where you can feature local vendors. Lead from the heart here… start with a heartstring-pulling story about the impact of shopping local (maybe even some quotes about the impact). Have separate categories for shop and eat, but just on the page… not in the menu. If you want to, place local shops listed with images and names with a small byline about what the business is. Keep it symmetrical. Make the pictures smaller so viewers can see more at once. You may want to add an Outdoor section here as well. 

3. Support (or Get Involved) This is where you can ask for donations and volunteering- place this on the page; no need to have a dropdown.

4. Events/ News (This will be your blog) Place all that extra stuff that doesn’t fit, but you still need it on your blog page. See below for further recommendations about how to leverage your blog. 

Are you struggling with your website’s SEO and online sales? Convert those website visitors into customers with our 14 point Website Checklist ⬇

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