Websites are a great tool for those of us in small business.  They allow us to attract visitors from all over, communicate important info in a way easily accessible to our customers, they allow us to showcase our products, and much more.  A web site really is an integral part of your small business strategy.  There are a number of mistakes that people make when putting together a site for their small business.  Here we’re going to look at a few of them, and what we can do to easily fix the problem.

PART I: NAVIGATION LAYOUT

Navigation is critical for your site.  Your content doesn’t do any good if people can’t find it.  I think we’ve all been frustrated when visiting a site, and having to search and search for a piece of information.  If we do find it, we will have to retrace our steps on a subsequent visit, if we need to find it again.  It’s like being lost in a forest.  If you want a good example of this, visit any government’s immigration web site.  I think they are made deliberately obtuse, so that people will just give up before they apply for anything

PRIMARY NAVIGATION

Your first line of defence if your primary Navigation. You should link to every major section of your site, but you don’t want there to be too many buttons. You need to categorize pages for sub-navigation in a way that will seem intuitive to users. Often we can use fly-out menus for sub-levels of navigation, but they can be come tiresome if you have to go past a second level. If you have a lot of things you need to link to in primary navigation, consider using a mega menu. Menu plugins like Ubermenu will allow you to lay out a massive menu in way that is accessible, and attractive.

flout menus

multiple level flout menus can create cumbersome navigation

mega-menus offer a much more efficient solution for complex navigation

SECONDARY NAVIGATION

You can also use custom menus for sections of your web site.  If you have 3 product lines (we’ll call them ProdA, ProdB, and ProdC, which are available in 3 different configurations (ProdA1, ProdA2, ProdA3, etc)  Perhaps you have a products button in your main navigation.  Then you have a submenu for each product line, and then you go one level further for each configuration.  If someone doesn’t know exactly which product they want want to view, they would have to navigate through 9 possible product configurations and be frustrated, having to go through 3 levels of navigation 9 each time.  This could be solved by having a custom sidebar menu on each of the 9 pages, linking directly to the other 8, or by using a mega-menu.

You want to anticipate the route that customers will take through your site, and build navigation around making that path as simple as possible.  You may have a page with bios for your team members.  This isn’t necessarily something that needs to be in top navigation, but it would certainly be something that you would want to link to from your about page.  Anticipating this sort of path will help simplify your navigation, and make your user experience better.  Someone please let people at immigration know!

Photo by marfis75