Navigation can make or break the user experience on a website. If users can’t find what they’re looking for — or if they can’t use the menu — they’re likely to get frustrated and give up on the site.
Check out this example of a user struggling with an unwieldy navigation experience:
Ugly or confusing navigation can certainly make you miss out on conversions — but it also impacts the overall customer perception of your company. If visitors have a frustrating time trying to navigate your site, then you’re missing out on an opportunity to delight your customers. And delighted customers are the ones who will make multiple purchases, leave positive reviews, and become advocates for your brand.
If you’re interested in improving your navigation usability, here are 37 resources to help you create a great experience for your users.
- General Menu Usability
- Mobile Menu Usability
- Testing and Analytics
- Courses and Presentations
- Design Inspiration
- Code and Tutorials
General Menu Usability
This article gives a great overview of some common-sense (but often underused) guidelines for menu design. Learn what the experts say about menu placement, use of visual information, and more.
Many well-intentioned websites use drop-down menus that expand when the user hovers over them. This article explains why this tends to cause frustration and confusion.
Drop-down menus get a lot of criticism for hindering usability, but sometimes they’re the best option. These tips will show you how to use drop-down menus for good, not evil.
“Sticky” or fixed navigation menus can make a huge difference in a website’s usability. This post shows the pros and cons of switching to a sticky menu, along with some surprising statistics.
More and more websites are using the “hamburger” (the ubiquitous three-line symbol for a menu) to save space on the screen, but hiding the navigation options isn’t always the best idea — especially for a desktop site.
Large drop-down menus can easily fall into the trap of giving the user too many options or presenting the options in a confusing way. This article shows you what not to do if you’re using a drop-down menu.
This post discusses navigation from a UX designer’s perspective and shows some creative alternatives to the traditional drop-down menu.
Not sure of the best location for your nav bar? Learn about scanning, visibility, and priority to decide which option is best for your site.
Browse through this collection of best practices, resources, and examples to get inspired to create a highly usable menu.
Take a look at the results from these real-life nav menu A/B tests. You might be surprised at what a difference a small change in copy or functionality can make.
Mobile Menu Usability
With mobile web traffic continuing to rise, creating a usable mobile experience is more important than ever. This article gives some basic guidelines on building menus for the small screen.
Responsive design is a popular way to make a website work on multiple devices, but creating an effective menu within your responsive site can be a big challenge. Here are some ideas for building a responsive menu that works.
For e-commerce sites, a bad mobile experience equals a loss of sales. From one-click checkout to the 44×44 rule for links and buttons, this is a list of things retailers can do right now to make their mobile navigation more usable.
This article shows how to make good use of the limited space on a mobile screen without confusing users. It also includes some user-friendly alternatives to the “hamburger” navigation symbol.
What does mobile menu usability have to do with quantum physics? And is it better to use an icon or a word to label the menu? Find out in this post.
There’s more to mobile design than layout and speed. This article takes a deep dive into improving navigation — code included!
If you’re looking to improve the menu on your app, you’ve come to the right place. This post gives pointers on designing menus for mobile game apps.
The co-founder of TV app Zeebox shares the surprising result of what happened when his app switched from a top navigation to a hidden side drawer alternative.
Testing and Analytics
Tree testing is a great way to test your site structure. This article explains tree testing, using a company intranet as an example.
Card sorting allows you to find out how users would naturally expect a site to be organized. Learn when, why, and how to use this method of testing.
Optimal Workshop offers tools for tree testing and card sorting. There are even free plans for folks who want to do smaller studies.
This widely-respected bestseller discusses design principles, development techniques, and real examples for creating a usable navigation experience.
This book takes an in-depth look at how to run a card sorting test, from planning the study to analyzing the results.
Courses and Presentations
Popular presenter Luke W. shows you realistic solutions for organizing your site’s navigation on a mobile screen.
Check out the 9 tips in this quick presentation that you should keep in mind when designing your navigation experience.
This intermediate-level online video course will get you up to speed with building menus using jQuery.
From super-simple to highly artistic, these menus have one thing in common: they’re very easy to understand and use.
These responsive mobile sites are shining examples of what you can do with a navigation menu on the small screen.
These websites prove that you don’t have to sacrifice creativity to make a menu user-friendly.
The navigation menu can play an important role in establishing a website’s character, as these examples do.
Design fans will appreciate the aesthetic appeal of these vertical nav menus.
Code & Tutorials
The Navbar component in the Bootstrap framework gives you options for static and fixed (sticky) navigation bars.
Learn how to build simple navigation bars using CSS in this beginner demo.
This plugin makes hover dropdown menus more usable by allowing the user to move the cursor to a submenu without accidentally collapsing it.
Want to copy and paste some CSS code rather than building your menu from scratch? Here are 38 basic menus that you can customize to suit your site.
Follow along with any of these 100 tutorials that will teach you how to create beautiful CSS menus.
Have a resource to add to the list?
If you have another useful navigation resource to share, please link to it in the comments below.
About Hannah Alvarez
Hannah is a Marketing Associate at UserTesting. As a former nonprofit professional, she's dedicated to making the world - and the web - a better place. In her free time, she likes making things and going on adventures.