Dental Website Navigation: What’s Good & What’s Confusing | Doctor Web Solution

Website Navigation: What Makes Sense, and What Confuses Your Patients

man confused in front of his laptop

A website should make all the work simple for its visitors. But all too often, you wind up on a site that’s nothing short of baffling. As a site visitor, you’re not just confused – you’re frustrated. Because you didn’t sign up for a digital puzzle, you just wanted to get the phone number for your local Thai restaurant. But this site is taking you further away from that information, instead of delivering it to you.

The last thing you want as a small business owner is for your website visitors to fall into this trap. Attention spans are decreasing all the time. If a visitor doesn’t find what they’re looking for right away, they don’t work harder to get to that information – instead, they just navigate away and look for another provider.

Of course, there are many different ways to make sure your site design speaks to visitors’ needs. But today, we’re talking about the most basic place you can possibly start: site navigation. While every website has some kind of navigation, countless sites make big mistakes. And this isn’t just bad for the user, but it’s also sending a perplexing message to search engines trying to index your site.

Check out some of the most important tenets of site navigation below – and get in touch for an analysis as to whether your site is falling into organizational traps.

Don’t Get Too Experimental

With mobile site designs becoming increasingly crucial – and often more important than desktop – there are all kind of tricks popping up for displaying mobile menus. But you should never journey too far from the standard menu signifiers. After all, you need your visitors to understand what the symbols on their screen are telling them.

Whether on desktop or mobile, keep the menu in the standard position – if you hide it all in the footer or have it difficult to access, it’s going to irritate more than a few visitors.

  • What to try – If you’re using the now-standard three horizontal lines as a menu marker, consider adding text like “Menu” next to it for visitors who might not be as familiar with mobile navigational shortcuts. This is especially valuable if you tend to have older clientele.

Use Descriptive Labels That Make Sense to Visitors

When planning out your menu, look at your website content from the perspective of an outsider with no knowledge of your practice. What would they be most interested in? Which page is going to be the most helpful in giving them the information they’re looking for? Make the heavy-hitters the highlights of the menu – for a dental practice, this is usually tabs like “New Patient Information,” “Testimonials,” “Contact Us,” and “Our Services.”

  • What to try – Specific is usually better – vague labels that group together a variety of pages could confuse visitors not familiar with your services.

Limit the Number of Items in Your Menu

Don’t overwhelm a new visitor. Not only do fewer links increase the likelihood of a visitor finding what they’re looking for, our short-term memories literally can’t handle too much at a time. Research suggests that the human brain can keep seven items in mind at once (plus or minus two). So try to limit your menu to seven or fewer items. If you’re stuck with a ton of absolutely necessary items, you can always split them up into groups.

  • What to try – If you’re struggling to limit the menu items in your main navigation, have a friend or family member take a look and pinpoint what they’d be most likely to click or find useful.

Order Your Menu With Priorities in Mind

Items in the middle of lists tend to get lost in the shuffle. Those at the beginning and end are most effective, because the viewer’s attention is strongest. They’re also more likely to retain these items’ names.

  • What to try – Most menus put the primary page as a link at the very top/beginning of the menu. Since many visitors enter the website through the home page, this gives them a simple way to find it again without a lot of back button clicking. The last item is ideally your contact form and information.

Looking for some expert guidance with your website organization? Reach out today for a complimentary site analysis.

Dental Website Design | Dental Website Navigation | Design Tips for Dental Websites
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