How Easy is it to Navigate Your Site?

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When most bloggers think of navigation they usually think of nothing more than the menu bar across the top of their blog. At this blog, however, this idea includes much more. When I use the term navigation I’m referring to the overall interaction that your user has with your site.

Navigation is the measure of how easy it is for your users to find their way around your site and how easy it is for them to journey their way into engaging with your content.

This includes their navigating throughout the pages and posts, their interacting with the dynamic content like polls and comment forms, and their ease in finding the information that you want them to find.

A Blogging Lesson from Captain Jack Sparrow

Navigation in its most common usage usually refers to guiding large vessels like ships or aircraft. In the third installment of Pirates of the Caribbean, Captain Jack Sparrow demonstrated this concept perfectly.

It was in that movie that Jack Sparrow used a unique compass that others thought was broken to direct him toward ‘his heart’s desire.’ Instead of pointing it’s tip toward the north, this compass would point toward the person’s most desired object.

jack-sparrow

Google Uses Jack’s Magic Compass. Why Don’t You?

For most internet users Google is that magic compass. Someone trying to navigate the internet can input a few keywords and then Google sends them off in the right direction to find whatever it is that they’re looking for. They’ve made it easy to find useful info.

As a result of Google’s simplistic approach to finding information, it’s brand and logo are now synonymous with finding anything on the internet.

I believe whole-heartedly that if you want to dramatically increase the success of your blog then you need to copy this principle from Google’s playbook: Keep it simple, stupid.

As you work to make it easier for your users to journey throughout your site and find points of interaction, you will see a dramatic increase in repeat visitors and in user interaction.

In tomorrow’s post I’m going to build on today’s lesson by providing you with some practical tips for dramatically enhancing your site’s simplicity. I’ll walk you step-by-step through the best ways to increase the quality of your user’s navigating experience at your website.

Daily Discussion: Can you think of a site that you’ve visited that you eventually left because it was too difficult to find what you were looking for? Can you think of a blog that you refused to participate at because their were too many obstacles to hurdle in order to leave a comment? What other areas can you think of that bloggers can improve by simplifying?

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About Nicholas Cardot

It's my personal quest to enable every person that I can to unlock that dormant potential concerning their online influence. Also, I'm a geek.

37 Comments

  • Eric B. says:

    Thanks for the tips. It’s always important for users to find information easily. Unfortunately, I thought that Pirates of the Caribbean was a crappy film. :P

  • Stefan says:

    Unlike Eric I loved the first film in the series but never really appreciated the follow ups. A bit to much according to me.

    Anyway, I think it’s a great metaphor with Jacks compass. Never thought about it before even though it seems so obvious now.

    I’ve left several of sites simple because it’s been almost impossible to comment on them. Sometimes you have to register, write a impossible captcha, etc.

  • Evan says:

    I can’t think of a specific site off the top of my head, but the two things that turn me off quickest to a site are poor writing that is hard to follow (I’m not pristine talking grammar- I understand mistakes are made), and a confusing site. If a site has confusing writing in a particular post but an easy layout, I might at least give other posts a try. But if I have to scratch my head to figure my way around, it will be a one post visit.

  • Bruce says:

    I think this is an issue I’ve been working on with my blog. My wife told me she thought it wasn’t the easiest to navigate, and when I thought about it, she was right, as always. I had made it look nicer, but more difficult to navigate. I think I’ve improved it some, but part of the kinks will be worked out as I figure out what exactly it is my readers want and how to make that easy for them to find. My blog is still new and I’m not entirely sure what is bringing people to my blog yet. I look forward to tomorrows post.

  • Arisu says:

    I know it´s awesome the way you can see a little preview of the posts in the main page of sitesketch.

    It´s really confusing when people organizes the posts for publish date and not for tags or categories. How could I know if I´m interested in your posts from July, 2007? And if the main page only displays one or two of the latest post, a “similar posts” or “most popular posts” button or banner is a good way to keep someone looking around. -of course if they like what you wrote-

  • InternethowBlog says:

    it takes me few seconds to get out, if the navigation and content confusing. So, I can’t really pinpoint particular one.

  • How Easy is it to Navigate Your Site? | Design Newz says:

    [...] How Easy is it to Navigate Your Site? [...]

  • Jeff B. says:

    Here’s a site that, while the navigation may be satisfactory, the layout is scary.

    http://www.ryedalecoin.com/Gallery.html

    Whether or not I considered one of their products, I do wonder if the items for sale are as cheaply built as the website.

    That would keep me from buying a product.

  • Nicholas Z. Cardot says:

    Hey Guys! Sorry that I haven’t been able to respond yesterday or for the first half of today. I feel horrible about that.

    Eric B. >> I’m sorry that you didn’t like it. My wife and I enjoyed it a lot. :) I think it’s fair to say that we can have different taste in films but the principle that about making our sites as simple as possible is still true!

    Stefan >> Although I enjoyed all three of the movies, the first was definitely my favorite as well. I leave sites like that as well. I don’t have the patience to deal with it. If an author wants me to engage with him or her then they need to make it very easy.

    Evan >> I agree about poor writing. It’s so distracting to see major grammatical errors. I actually ask my wife to proof read almost every article that I post on here. I still find mistakes in my own work but I try very heard to eliminate them.

    Bruce >> It’s always great to take advice from someone outside of the design process. Your trying to create your work for readers and not for designers so you want someone who knows very little about it to look it over. Our wives are perfect for that!

    Arisu >> Yeah. It really doesn’t help me much either when people categorize their work by dates. I don’t care if it was from June or July. I care what it’s about. Good point!

    InternetHowBlog >> Thanks for the feedback.

    Jeff B. >> Great point. When I see a site that doesn’t look professional it makes me think that the author or the product is not professional either.

  • Ken says:

    Sure, I can think of a website that makes it difficult to find what I’m looking for… Microsoft.com You can spend hours there being sent back and forth between sub-sites, never actually finding what you were looking for.

  • Sat says:

    Great Article. Really helpful

  • Hua Chen says:

    I think categories will disappear and tags will take the place of.

  • HRM says:

    Very helpful indeed!

    Personally, what makes me linger longer and dig deeper on a site is on how simpler, easier it is to navigate from one section to the next.

    • Nicholas Z. Cardot says:

      HRM » Exactly. A site may have excellent content, but if it is difficult to get to that content then it will be useless to the users.

  • Typhoon says:

    I think I have take appropriate measures to make the readers navigate through my blog easily.

    By the way as Eric B. said at the top; even I didn’t like Pirates of Caribbean, honestly speaking..

    • Nicholas Z. Cardot says:

      Typhoon » As long as we all understand the good principles of simplistic site navigation then you are certainly welcome to dislike the movie. I’m surprised how many people mentioned that they don’t like that movie. I really thought that more people liked those movies. Oh well. Sometimes I’ve got great illustrations and sometimes I just come up with duds! LOL

  • Mukund says:

    I completely accept with you Nicholas and with Ken. When you visit Microsoft’s site, I never know where I am and I never get what I want. So, definitely site navigation is a must. To be true, your site navigation is awesome! And I love the way you incorporated the movie Pirates of the Caribbean in this post. Wonderful!!

    • Nicholas Z. Cardot says:

      Mukund –> Thanks, Makund. I appreciate it. Navigation is all about the user. If the user can’t use it then your navigation is a complete waste.

      • Mukund says:

        Absolutely right! I tried my best and have provided proper navigation to my users in my blog. Hope I can improve more! By the way, my name is Mukund and not Makund!! Lol!! :)

  • ZXT says:

    I’m also trying to make my blog as simple as possible and easy to navigate. Checking other free themes, maybe I can improve my site even more.

  • akira07 says:

    After reading, wanna immediately say that this site navigation is good.

    About my experience in other site. Yes, you right, i ever find a blog which have no good navigation. The site is only depend on archive menu. But their forget if the contest is already like a bunch an it’s hard to find topic i looking for.

    But two thumbs up for some blog which make menu which categorizing contest based on keyword/label, and use related post system in the end of the post.

    • Mukund says:

      Yes!! You are right! I check your blog and it lacks a related post system. But, your blog is pretty clear. So, there is no confusion in navigation!!

      • akira07 says:

        Hi, do you mean you already check my blog? from20 blogspot com? Oh, i’m embarassed :P.
        Thanks for the advice, i will take care of the post system matter.

        • Mukund says:

          Yes!! I already checked your blog! You definitely need to consider adding related posts below your blogger posts!! It increases the pageviews and improves page navigation too!!

  • Rish says:

    Honestly, I do not like the theme of my blog now (which I personally made) because it is really not easy to navigate. :D Haha. I always use jquery so that my theme would stand out. But at the end of the day, they found it hard and will just ask me on how to navigate it properly. I felt ashamed , embarrassed or something. That idea pulls down my blogging motivation.

  • Self Improvement says:

    Yes, I actually remember a blog with a CAPTCHA that I just couldn’t seem to get right! I hated that and ended up not even leaving a comment. It just didn’t make sense to me especially with all the spam blockers we have nowadays.
    .-= My Latest Blog Post: How To Get More From Life This Instant =-.

  • Vinish Parikh says:

    Thanks for tips, will make changes accordingly to my site
    .-= My Latest Blog Post: Deflation – A Vicious Circle =-.

  • 12 Days of Blogging 2010: 12 Writers Writing — BlogWorld Expo Blog says:

    [...] “Content is King.” We understand that websites are a combination of design elements, usability, navigation, load speed, interactivity and content. More importantly, we understand that content is the king [...]

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