Optimising Mobile Navigation Design
We are now living in a mobile-first world.
Companies are investing in mobile content, relevance, and UX because of their invaluable impact on customer engagement. These three factors have even been the basis of Google in ranking your website in their new mobile-first index.
All these factors are heavily influenced by your mobile navigation.
Mobile Navigation Design is focused on menus and internal links, and it must always work for your users and SEO. If you have a good mobile navigation design, it makes it easier for your end-users to find what they need, without sacrificing your page speed and its look and feel. It should also help you achieve a higher page ranking for the relevant pages that you want to rank well in search.
When people designed for websites years ago, navigations included everything in a huge, multi-tiered list. However, this type of navigation does not work for mobile. It ends up cluttering the page, while requiring long scrolling, causing visitors to leave the page and killing your page traffic.
The goal of mobile navigation design is always to make page visitor’s lives easier.
Here are best practices to optimise your mobile navigation design:
Prioritise the most important pages
Your users are exposed to so much clutter in their mobile phone, and if they have to spend more time than necessary on your mobile site, they are bound to bounce away. It is your job to implement modern UI and UX designs to help them get to their destination faster.
You have to look into the most common actions of your visitors while using their smartphones and the most important pages in your site that will effectively satisfy their needs. These should be the basis of what items go in your main menu, and the call-to-action you should put in your pages.
When you focus on the key pages on your mobile site, it’s great for SEO and your users because they can navigate your website freely while still keeping the spotlight on your most important pages.
Your navigation should be intuitive
Exploring your site should be a breeze for your users. If you want to make your navigation intuitive, you should make sure that the menu language you use tells your users what to expect. If it’s a dropdown, it should be clear what the item does, and if it’s a link, they should know exactly where it goes.
When using symbols, make sure they are conventional and clear. For instance, in dropdowns, you can use a plus sign or an arrow to let your visitors know they can click it to reveal more options. Using a magnifying glass to signify a search feature is one of the best practices as well. Toggle menus that help users locate and access your main navigation often use three stacked lines. You should always aim to make the user’s visit to your page easier – less thinking, scrolling, and clicking.
Make your mobile navigation short and simple
The average mobile phone screen is only 720 pixels wide. This means mobile navigation is all about designing for smalls screens. Because you have limited space, you can’t waste it on clutter. You need to be concise, without sacrificing the content of your site.
Focus on links that will aid your users in completing the priority tasks. Not every element in your desktop navigation should be included. Only use the elements that are relevant to a mobile environment.
When too many links are available, some users experience decision paralysis. You can prevent this by having a maximum of eight (8) items in your mobile navigation. You can even skip the home button by adding a top-of-page logo that links to the homepage.
While minimising the number of navigation menus is essential, some sites such as e-commerce sites require multi-level navigation to help boost the user experience. In this case, keeping it as simple as possible is the key. One sublevel of the dropdown is enough, more than that may be too much. Further, if your navigation requires a list of items, make sure they are vertically oriented and activated from a menu icon.
Be smart about your fonts
One important rule about mobile websites is ensuring the users shouldn’t have to zoom to read any of the text. Poor user experience will drive your website users away, and Google won’t like it either.
Every single text on your mobile site should be large enough so that users can read it in every device they have without the need for zooming. You should prioritise this as you build your mobile-friendly CSS to manage the appearance of the text on different devices.
The key to having easy-to-read text is finding the right font. Your navigation text should be easy to read. It should naturally add space to distinguish letters and tall enough to be read in a menu. However, you should always make sure your font size and style are in line with your brand’s style guide. This ensures that the font size and style you choose fits your unique demographic.
Every formatting decision, from bullet styles to margins to captioning, should reflect what your audience likes. It should be comfortable and intuitive for them to read.
Search should be part of your navigation
Mobile users consider search as part of navigation, and that means you should too. When you look at mobile sites of popular brands, you’ll notice one of the most prominent features in their mobile websites is search boxes. When a brand offers thousands and thousands of products, you can’t expect your customer to scroll through everything in a massive catalogue.
Users usually already know what they’re looking for, so they just want to type a product name, click the product, and proceed to purchase.
One of the most direct routes to what a user needs is a search box – you should not have a mobile site without it, especially if you’re in e-commerce.
Remember that you may be designing for a multi-screen mobile user
More often than not, your users are using multiple devices over a short period. They will be encountering your websites in different screens so, to make them feel confident that they’re on the right site, your mobile and desktop sites should have a consistent visual theme. This doesn’t mean they should be 100% identical. There are features in desktop navigation that shouldn’t be used in mobile. But having the same colours, fonts, and themes reinforces your branding.
However, it should still be mobile-first. Consider the needs of your smartphone users and build your mobile navigation specifically for them. Space is limited, and the patience of your users is minimal, you should design the shortest and fastest path from opening your site to their desired action.
Design for touchscreens
Because you are designing for mobile, that means you are planning for tablets and smartphones that rely on touchscreens to get them around websites. Websites use a point mouse arrow, and that allows users to select items in tight spaces. On touchscreens, however, clicking items with a finger requires a larger target.
According to Google, mobile pages should have a minimum touch target size of 48 pixels. Furthermore, your touch targets should be spaced both horizontally and vertically 32 pixels apart. Since tapping their mark may be an issue for users, you should also incorporate touch feedback into your navigation. When your users tap something, there should be a colour change, font change, or another visual cue to indicate they successfully clicked on something.
Where do I navigate next?
The mobile-first world is tricky but getting it right the first time is a must. With millions of users accessing websites in their tablets and smartphones, it’s only right to make this a priority. These best practices will help you get the most out of your mobile navigation design, and our developers are equipped with this knowledge.
April9 is a team of web development experience, with years of experience in the field. Being one of the leading design and development firms in the country, April9’s team offers custom solutions for any type of business.
Let us turn your ideas into reality. Contact us today for a free consultation.