Man’s HEAD EXPLODES Trying to Navigate Site!

Website planning maze

Poor website planning turns into a maze

How important is it that visitors find what they want in your website?

How about they find what you want them to find? Very important, right?

The thing is, when it comes to planning their website, most people don’t, and with lack of planning, comes lack of organization. Without organization, it’s hard to navigate your website.

Poor navigation is one of the principal reasons for high bounce rates (the percentage of visitors who, upon entering the website “bounce”, or leave, instead of browsing through the site). If this is the case, the only good news is many visitors will leave your website before their head explodes.

Reading Your Visitor’s Mind

How does one design a website navigation that is effective? Very simple, read their minds. No, you don’t need superpowers, you just read the cards.

Card Sorting

Website Planning method: Card SortingCard sorting is an easy technique from user experience design. You know, people whose job it is to design information architectures like website navigation.

Here’s what you do:

  1. Make a set of index cards with a term for each website section or offering.
  2. Show to a person (or use yourself) to put into logical groups.
  3. Name these groups.
  4. Repeat with other people (not too many, no need to go crazy here).
  5. Analyze results to determine your navigation.

I found this great little video that explains the concept:

Online Whiteboards

If you’d rather go hi-tech (and/or stakeholders are spread across the globe or something), there are a few online tools available. These caught my eye:

These are professional tools, and offer all sorts of analysis add-ons. They’re also paid tools. They offer a free demo, which very well could be all you need to get the hang of it.

If you want to keep it simple (and cheaper), but still want online tools for collaboration, you may want to take a look at an online whiteboard like Realtime Board. It has a free option that should be very helpful in doing a card sort online. It has a bit of a learning curve, but, hey, did I mention there’s a free option?

Website Planning Method: Online Whiteboard Realtimeboard

Online Whiteboard Realtimeboard

Mind Mapping

One method I like to use is mind-mapping.

Website Planning Method: Mindmap

Mind map made on MindNode mind-mapping software

The way mind-mapping works, you can just enter the information first (categories, sections, you name it), and then organize and re-organize it by dragging around the working area.

My favorite mind-mapping software is MindNode(Mac only). There is a limited-feature free version, and a powerful paid version.

Of course, there’s like a bajillion mind-mapping applications out there. Check the list at Wikipedia.

Don’t be shy. Give any of these methods and tools a shot, and you’ll see how much easier it is to build a usable website.

Let me know how it works for you,

Nando

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Nando Journeyman

Hi, I’m Nando Cabán-Méndez, the “Commerce Whisperer”, an entrepreneur with more than 25 years of experience in business and design, and more than 10 years in digital marketing and eCommerce. At AllyOne, I use my skills and experience to help online business owners grow their business with best-of-breed eCommerce solutions. In this blog, I share experiences from my career and one or two opinions. Subscribe to stay in touch.