6 Easy Steps to a More Efficient Website Presence
Often times, companies find themselves trying to communicate a lot of different messages to their target audience via their most important web presence–the website. This overload of messaging can leave users confused and distracted when entering a site, which may increase the website bounce rate. Here are a few quick and easy tips on how to declutter your website and hone in on successful messaging and information.
1. Gather all of the information on your site including menu headings and sub headings
This step will help to ensure that no information on your website is lost. It will also help you begin to notice how many headings and subheadings are included on the site. Having all of this information written out, will also assist in showing you the amount of information and topics through which your audience must navigate.
2. Write out all information onto note cards and sort by like items
Once you have gathered your headings and subheadings, write down each one on a separate note card and begin to sort together by like items. This is the beginning stage of organizing your sitemap. As you begin to sort, you will gain a better understanding of what items may fit together, what information you can combine, and which menu items can be discarded.
3. Discard duplicates, menu items that are no longer relevant and menu items that can be combined under other items.
This is the stage where clutter reduction really begins. Many websites are overloaded because there are outdated and irrelevant items located within the sitemap. At times, some menu items may be duplicated under a different heading name, confusing the user as he/she navigated through the site. Be sure to complete this stage with a group of 2-3 people. This will allow you to effectively make choices and get answers to questions from others who view the site as well.
4. Sort the note cards and create top menu items, limiting your navigation menu to less than 8 main header items.
Main header menus should contain only the most pertinent topics and should not contain so many items as to confuse the user. A good rule of thumb is to keep the headings within an 8 item maximum. Although sometimes tough to do, this will assist the user when making decisions on finding information he/she needs and will also keep website clutter to a minimum. If you find yourself with more than 8 menu items, consider using a second navigation menu within the homepage such as the one on awhealthcare.com. The AW Healthcare site allows users to sort by top menu items, or by important services located just below the image slider. When creating header menu, consider items such as; Who We Are, What We Do, and News and Insights.
5. Design sub headers under your main header menus using leftover notecards.
With the remaining note cards, create subheader menus underneath your headings. Since the cards have been grouped together, you can easily choose what items fit under what headings. Do this as a group. Be sure to include subheadings that will create an easy flow for the user. Like a book, the menu items should flow from left to write, allowing the user to breeze through, building on information as he/she goes along in order to keep their attention. Once this step has been completed, step away from your sitemap and come back to it the next day. A fresh perspective can assist you in making the map even sharper.
6. Create content specific to the menu headings and subheadings.
Finally, create the content that will fit under the headings and subheadings. Now that the sitemap has been completed, it is much easier to see what content is necessary on the site and what content can be eliminated. Be sure to include keywords in your content for Google and other search engines to easily crawl your site for relevant information. You will now have a much more clean and efficient website for your users to search.