3 Tips for User-Friendly Navigation

April 8th, 2014 by Michelle Neuhoff Boyd

A few weeks ago, my future mother-in-law purchased her first iPad. While she has been the proud owner of an iPhone for a few months, there was something different, to her, about the navigation of an iPad. As we were walking through some of the different apps and functions on her new tablet, she found herself trapped in her browser window and unsure how to get back to her email.


Are you the type of person who can easily pick up on the newest technology trends? Or do you feel like you can never catch up with things changing so frequently? User-friendly navigation can take that worry away and make your experiences with technology easy and fun!

Tip #1: Keep something familiar.

We’ve all experienced that little moment of panic when we don’t know where to go next. For some people it happens when traveling to a new city or starting a job at a new company. We want to know that there’s a way out of any situation. For my future mother-in-law, that “way out” was the home button. After discussing the way she closes out of the Internet on her iPhone, she quickly realized she had that same “panic button” located at the bottom of her iPad.

Tim Ash, CEO of SiteTuners and author of “Landing Page Optimization” was a keynote speaker at PubCon in New Orleans. During his keynote presentation he mentioned that as soon as we see someone walk into a room, we subconsciously decide how to kill them. He claimed it’s just a part of our natural instincts. I’m not sure if that’s the case for everyone, but I do think we at least look for an escape route.


Tip #2: Make it easy.

Have you ever started navigating your way through site and then realized that you weren’t sure of the best way to get back without having to click the back button nine or ten times? What do you do? Do you simply close your browser window out of frustration? We crave easy navigation to avoid such frustration and make browsing simpler.

To a certain degree we all enjoy updates to technology, but we still like to hold onto something familiar. For some social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, having a fixed navigation is the solution. How often do you find that you’ve logged into your social media account and then hours later, or for those with better self control, minutes later, you’ve scrolled so far down the page you’re looking at updates from days or weeks ago? Can you imagine what it would be like if you had to scroll all the way back up to the top of the page? If you were on Facebook before 2011, then you might remember.

Tip #3: Know your audience.

Is this something that all websites need? No, not necessarily. For many sites, scrolling is not quite as intuitive. The solution could be as simple as having “HOME” as an option in your navigation. Know your audience. Some users need an actual home button or link in the navigation, and some simply expect that your logo will link back to your homepage. If you’re unsure of the way your users interact with your page or how to make your page easier to get through, it may be best to do some testing.


Do you have any tips for easy navigation? If so, let us know in the comments!