Navigating websites isn’t always smooth sailing

by Julianne Rigali

Designing Your Navigation Menu

Before you start design on your website,  the second thing to do: You should layout your navigation menu for website navigation. (Wondering about the first thing…that’s for an upcoming post…stay tuned.)

First, use a piece of paper, a blackboard, or a dry erase board.

Second, jot down what your website will offer your readers.

  • Will you have a blog?
  • An “about me” page?
  • A page with excerpts from your writings?
  • A bookshop page?
  • A photo gallery?
  • Are you a guest speaker?
  • Do you offer any services?
  • Will you have a Media/PR page?
  • Giving Back/Charity page?
  • Other

Top Navigation, Left to Right

Put your home page on top and then it’s time for your layout. Figure out what order your top-level pages should be placed.  Such as left to right on the navigation bar I might place: Home, Party Planning, Crafts, Free Printables, Recipes, and About Me.

Do you need to add sub-menus for the sake of flow? Maybe under my Recipes tab, I will have a sub-menu of Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Snacks, and Desserts.

Input from Your Readers

Over time, your website users may make suggestions which you can incorporate at a later date. Navigation of your site is important. It can make or break how much time a potential fan spends on your site.

If you feel overwhelmed, a great idea is to look at several websites of famous authors, whom you admire. Mind you, if they are famous, they may be able to afford customized design features that you cannot at this time. However, they could inspire you with navigation menu ideas.

Personal Branding and SEO

Website hierarchy takes place in navigation and using headings in your content. Both are very important not only for your SEO (search engine optimization), but also in retaining your readers.

The navigation should tie in with your personal branding. This may mean keeping it basic or becoming adventurous and renaming some menu titles.

If you are a children’s book author, perhaps the menu titles will speak to the age level of the children, such as children’s author Judy Moody has a menu title “Way-Not-Boring-Stuff,” which leads to a page of links to free, themed printables.

If you are writing steampunk romance novels, maybe you will choose to rename your menu titles to fit with your genre, such as the “Gear-turning Gallery.”

If you are a writing Christian Historical Fiction, it’s conceivable that you might have a menu title, “Unatheistic Author of the Present,” for your About Me page.

About Us or Our Story

Over the last decade, it has become increasingly popular to call the “About Us” page “Our Story” instead. It’s been deduced through research that some people make their buying decisions based on connecting with the passion of the owner.

You make the call, but think out your navigation before your website goes live! If you already have a website up and running, it’s never too late for a redesign and render it more reader friendly.

Mention this blog post in your services request form and receive a free website checkup. That’s a $50 value!

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