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The Case for a Boring Navigation Menu

Girl in pink pants looking at laptop on white bedspread

Alright, boo. Get ready for an unpopular opinion of sorts, okay? Today we’re talking alllll about your navigation menu and I have a feeling some feathers are about to get a little bit ruffled.

Here’s why:

You need to stop using cutesy and creative page titles in your navigation menu.

If I had a nickel for everytime I landed on a website and saw a navigation menu filled with options like the ones listed below, I’d have a ton of nickels.

  • Get to Know Your Girl (for an About page)
  • Change Your Life (for a Services or Work with Me page)
  • Read My Thoughts (for a Blog page)
  • Hit Me Up (for a Contact page)

At first glance, it’s so easy to look at this list and think, Wait! These are cute! They’re creative and they stand out because EVERYONE ELSE is using such standard and boring language in their navigation menus.

But when you dive a little deeper and you dig into the user experience (UX) of your site — these sort of page titles are straight up confusing. 

Why? Because in our efforts to be clever, we sacrifice clarity. And clear beats clever every single time.

Let me prove it to you.

Point 1: Your site visitors don’t want to read your navigation menu.

They want to skim it. They want to be able to glaze over that bar so quickly and know what it says and where to click that they barely need to keep their eyes on their screen. 

When you use familiar, ubiquitous, and boring page titles — your readers can do just that.

Point 2: Your site visitors don’t want to play a guessing game when it comes to your navigation menu.

When you say seemingly creative things like, “Change Your Life” in your navigation menu — you’re making your site visitor guess what on earth that means. They pause for a second and wonder, “What on earth does this mean?” before clicking and there’s an inherent skepticism built into every action they take on your site after. 

Or worse — they click away. And they take no action.

On the flipside, when you label your navigation menu plain and simply — you’re telling your site visitor exactly what they’re going to get when they click. “Services” or “Work with Me” does the trick.

Why? Because it gets your site visitor to do what you want them to do without making them ever stop to think about it.

Point 3: Your site visitors don’t want to be torn between navigation menu options.

This one is best explained with an example.

Say you’re a life coach and your navigation menu has the below options:

  • Home
  • About
  • Work with Me
  • 1:1 Coaching
  • Group Coaching
  • Blog
  • Contact

If I wanted to book a consultation or a session with you — I essentially have three choices to choose from on your navigation menu: Work with Me, 1:1 Coaching, and Group Coaching.

This mini-analysis paralysis can be completely overwhelming for site visitors and deter them from taking any action at all. 

In this example, I’d recommend grouping 1:1 Coaching and Group Coaching under Work with Me and break down the categories of ways someone could work with you in the layout of the page.

I’ve said this before — but if I were to make one sweeping declaration about websites and website homepages, here’s what it would be:

The simpler and more familiar they are — the better.

In fact, I’m not the only one who thinks this. The smarty pants over at Google conducted a study that proves this very thing. (Anyone else feel incredibly validated when a credible study backs their opinion? 🤪)

Simply put: Every effective navigation menu is a boring navigation menu.

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Website Tips

August 24, 2021

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