Small sites have navigation challenges because they have so little real estate to work with. If you only have 10 pages, then your navigation not only has to get people around the site, but also give visitors a real sense of who you are and why they should stick around. Your challenge is to balance navigation with biography. This is especially important for small shops that need to stand out.
Here are some good ideas:
1. Don’t Waste Your Words (Or Pages)
So many consultants have “Services” as a link in their top navigation. That’s probably the most generic way you can refer to what you do. “Services” doesn’t give me any insight into what you do and it doesn’t make me excited to click. Instead of “Services”, why not introduce me to what you do and wet my appetite for the next page?
This is a waste of good real estate:
Rather than a generic label, you can give a little insight into what you do or how you are organized.
Here is how it looks at TrendSight.
I’m not saying put a lot of energy into being clever or creating couplets for each button, but don’t be unnecessarily vague.
2. Blatantly Promote Yourself
There is no reason not to give your visitors a STRONG hint about what you want from them. If you want someone to hire you as a speaker or lawyer or dentist, then tell them that.
Duct Tape Marketing’s site is a great example of this:
I’ll be doing this in my next site update. Honestly, there is no reason not to. The cool thing is that this link gets to the point while staying clear and useful for the visitor.
3. Let it All Hang Out
If you only offer a handful of services then you should just put them in the top navigation. Why make me click through a page like “Services” (bleh) to get to what I’m looking for?
Maybe I’m biased but I feel like you can look at my top navigation and get a strong indicator of what my business is about. For a small site, a quick “intro” via navigation labels is a good way to build trust or at least recognition that a visitor is in the right place.
4. Talk to Me
You see this a lot with apps and technology companies but it can also work for services, speakers, etc. Rather than sticking with generic labels, you can give someone a targeted message.
Chris Brogan does this in a very low-key way on his site:
If you have a full experience that you want to immerse people in, then this is a great idea. As I mentioned, apps do this a lot with Tours or Getting Started links.
Your Navigation is a Communication Tool
The main takeaway is that your navigation can tell people about you and get them engaged. For small sites, this may be the difference between a bounce and conversion. If you are your business, adding some personality and transparency to your navigation is a good way to build trust.
Improving on What You’ve Got
This is the 3rd post in my series about improving your website with targeted changes. This post was supposed to be about content but I wanted to make sure I covered some tips for smaller sites. I’ll be putting out my post about content as soon as possible, so that I don’t fall behind.
Featured image courtesy of PlayThink