Designing mobile apps for large, content-rich websites comes with its own set of challenges. The alterations in viewport size now completely change the way we navigate a website. There are thousands of pages that need to be sorted and organized to make them accessible at a tap. You would also need to be sure that the users don’t suffer information overload. It’s a complicated puzzle that needs to be put together.
Here are some things you should know about mobile navigation and some best practices.
- Menus: Utilize visual hierarchy to differentiate primary and secondary navigation.
- Submenus: Avoid creating sectional menus. Allow users to peek into submenus via the dropdown or open/close menu.
- You Are Here Indicators: Leave breadcrumbs for users to indicate their whereabouts.
- Navigating Between Websites: If you have multiple sites tied into the main website, then try to keep things consistent with headers and other elements. Link those headers in subdomains and landing pages to your main site.
- Site Search: Use keywords that your audience uses to optimize for search. All the pages must have proper context and details to land up in your target users’ search results.
Almost all the websites you’d see use the Hamburger menu for navigation on mobile. We have nothing against it but a little clarity goes a long way concerning accessibility. Here you can find alternatives for the Hamburger menu.
- A hamburger menu is a great option for tight spaces, but something such as a simple ‘Menu’ label aids easier navigation for all.
- Larger sites are easier to navigate when menus are organized categorically, like primary and secondary navigation or based on user groups.
The menus that expand by allowing users to open/close to see different submenus are very convenient. This way users can quickly sift through sections to find what they are looking for without going inside individual pages.
- Use dropdown or expand/collapse menu for deeper secondary and tertiary level navigation.
- If you opt for section navigation, place it on the screen, where it is noticeable and close to the content.
Your website’s page titles might match the navigation labels, but only a handful of users use this information to determine what page they’re on. A user should know the current state, if they end up at the same spot, again and again, it would lead to frustration.
- Ensure that the user knows where they are on your website’s navigation to prevent frustration caused by getting lost. Also, provide a way back as breadcrumbs do.
Navigating Between Websites
When dealing with a lot of information, large websites divide certain parts of information or services into microsites. To ascertain that it doesn’t overwhelm users or cause any confusion, keep the headers consistent and link them back to the main site’s homepage.
- Use global headers to keep things consistent within sister sites with a link back to the main site.
- Use an offsite indicator if you’re linking the navigation menu to an external site.
Optimize site search for keywords and keyword groups that your target users often use.
If your organization’s lexicon is complex and consists of internal lingo then confirm that your keyword search is equipped with auto-suggest. Often the page-based site search returns no results if there is nothing to be found corresponding to that keyword on that page. In such scenarios, the global site search could be of help and lead the visitor to the right place.
- Use familiar keywords common with your target users to optimize site search
- For large websites utilize global site search but with clear clues of visitors’ whereabouts.
- Ensure that pages when landed on via any search—site search or a Google search—provide appropriate context.
While building large and complex websites mobile navigation shouldn’t be considered as an afterthought. Considering the massive adoption of mobile for internet usage, it could be a bad move to have botched-up mobile navigation for a large website. It could reflect badly on your brand, your products, and your services, as people might think of your offerings as not on par with the competition.
Our design experts at Galaxy can help you identify and solve these problems with you. Usability shouldn’t be an afterthought and mobile experiences are the backbone of any online business today, connect with us to make experiences that complement your business.
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We specialize in delivering end-to-end software design & development services and have hands-on experience with mobile app and site design in agile development environments. Our designers, engineers, and developers help improve security, reliability and features to make sure your business application and IT structure scale and remain secure.