Summary: Every website should have the primary goal of building a hierarchy of menus and articles that feels natural to visitors and doesn’t trick, mislead, or interfere with their use of the website.
Menu structures can be too deep, literally burying prime information under too many levels of menus. Asking a visitor to navigate through layers of menus results in a frustrated visitor.
Visitors should never be required to visit page after page of menus if there is a direct route. A well-designed, respectful hierarchy provides visitors with menus that have quick access to information.
Visitors View Your Website Search As An Essential Component Of Navigation
They expect your website to offer a front and center search option. Your visitors view search as the most efficient way to locate particular information about a keyword or phrase they’re interested in.
The most basic form of hierarchical website structure is a hub-and-spoke set of pages emanating from a central home page. Navigation typically is a basic list of subpages, plus a link to the home page
As websites grow more complex they advance to more sophisticated multitiered hierarchical or tree architectures. In WordPress this translates into categories, subcategories, and tags. These organizational tools provides websites owners a very powerful way to organize a complex website.
Typical website visitors’ eye movements do this…
The above image is the result of an eye-tracking heat map study. It shows website visitors almost always browse in an F-shaped pattern that heavily favors the left side of the page.
With this information we know exactly where to place our important information.
Using any other method to decide where to place important information would literally be arbitrary and risky.
Knowing visitors’ common viewing patterns and behaviors makes organizing our websites visual hierarchy much more important.
Website visitors process information visually, noticing website elements in the order that we have emphasized them.
Hierarchies give your website visitors order and enables them to quickly make sense of your website design and navigation.
Our goal should be to prioritize menus and headers with respect to what we know about visitors eye patterns and give them what they want and what we want them to do.