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If a navigation bar is the roadmap to a website, it’s probably best to show every page there, right? That way people are sure to find what they need…
Actually, not so much.
Many people take the “more is more” approach to their top (or side) navigation menu—the logic being that if visitors need to find something, at least they’ll be able to find it in the main menu.
The thing is, navigation menus work best when they are short and sweet
. There’s a few reasons for this:
- User experience: A short menu is easier and faster for people to read through—if they have to hunt through lots of options, they are more likely to bounce.
- Search engine optimization (SEO): A short, clear menu makes it easier for search engines to navigate, understand, and index your site.
- Design: Most website templates are designed with one line of navigation in mind. Adding more than that can make your navigation look crowded, hard to read, and in some cases “break” the style of your website.
Does the navigation bar need help?
One way to assess a website is to simply count the number of menu items in the navigation
. A good rule of thumb is to keep it to no more than seven choices. Any more than that, and you may be stretching your readers’ attention spans.
Another sign is if you see the navigation breaking onto two lines
. If this is happens, it’s a good idea to reconsider the presentation of pages.