Your school website is the primary source of information regarding everything for parents, students, and future employees. As a web design company one of the most common things you are expected to hear when taking up a school website design project is that it should be ‘easy to navigate’.
But the most common question here is how do we create a site that is ‘easy to navigate’? Let’s explore a few things you need to take care of when designing the navigation structure of your site.
1. Keep the design simple
As a designer it’s totally fine to come up with unique designs that can pleasantly surprise the users. But it is always safe to play safe with the navigation structure. If the users take too long to figure out what to do next — for example, struggling to locate the search button or figure out the Submit button for the Donation program — chances are they will abandon your site never to return again.
2. Restrict the number of choices
When users look at your site menu, they should be able to easily skim through all the options available on your site. If users are overwhelmed with too many options and they’re not able to make a choice, their only option would be to leave your site. Hence it is recommended that you stick to eight or fewer menu options when designing your site. In case you have a number of buttons available, restrict yourself to include only three or four buttons. If the other departments force their choice on including every single detail on the header, take a firm stand.
3. Limit the number of clicks
When designing the site navigation, make sure to use dropdown menus under the main navigation menu. This will help the users to directly navigate to the page of their choice. The best part is that the users will also be able to navigate to a section that may be nested deep within without clicking on every single page. Another popular way of organizing the navigation structure of your site is by using a hamburger or navicon menu on the desktop that emphasizes the key items on the site. With this design structure, users find it easier to locate the deeply nested pages by simply hovering over the main page menu.
4. Be consistent
Your visitors, especially ones with disabilities, expect your site to be predictable. If the navigation is consistent across the site, it makes it easier for everyone to locate specific items within the navigation structure. When designing the navigation structure of your site, make sure you use menus and other navigation mechanisms that are consistent across all the pages. With items that are repeated in the same relative order ensure that you place the menus in the same place on every page.
5. Ensure mobile accessibility
While designing the site, you need to make sure users are able to access all the pages, including the deeply nested ones, as easily on their mobile phones as their desktops. The most important aspect of working on a mobile-friendly navigation is to work with a company that understands the mobile-first design. This is important as the designer needs to take the different device experiences into consideration while working on the layout and navigation.
6. Offer guidance to the users
To make your site navigation successful, make sure you offer enough guidance by including featured links that you would like the users to visit. Including clear call-to-action instructions throughout the site works really well when you want users to take any predefined action, such as submitting a form or clicking a link to explore more.
To sum up
Understandably, the requirements for each school are different. There are additional considerations that need to be taken care of by the design team while deciding on the navigation structure of the school website. We believe that following the guidelines mentioned above will be a great starting point for you.