All the important elements about your website are connected to the navigation. A website menu is one of THE most important areas of the website to get right. Navigation will affect traffic and search engine rankings.
A menu has one of the largest impacts on whether a website is a success or failure. So think carefully about how it works.
AVOID DROP DOWNS:
Drop down menus are annoying, according to usability studies. Visitors actually move their eyes faster than they move a mouse. When we move the mouse to the menu, the user has already decided to click but then the drop down gives you more options to think about. Because of this users might skip important top level pages to view other sub pages.
The only exception are mega menus which actually test well in usability studies. So a big site with many sections will improve with a mega menu.
DON'T GET CREATIVE WITH IT:
Users like familiarity - they expect to find horizontal or vertical navigation with familiar labels. Having the menu in a standard place makes it easy to navigate. So although sometimes it’s good to be different to stand out. Doing it in your menu is not the place to do it. The ultimate goal is for people find your content, not have them learn a new way to navigate a website.
DON'T HAVE TOO MANY ITEMS:
Short term memory only holds about 7 items, don't overload the links on the home page. Less links means you are not saturating the important items otherwise they can get overlooked. Try removing a few menu items, leaving the more important ones. Less is more.
LABEL ITEMS CORRECTLY:
Make sure the menu is descriptive. The navigation is a way to indicate your relevance to search engines. Try to use labels that include popular key phrases. Always consider search engines when planning your menu.
GET THE ORDER RIGHT
Items that appear first or last on any list are most effective. It’s called the “serial position effect.” Psychology studies show that attention is highest for items that appear at the beginning and at the end. Therefore put your most important items at the beginning of the navigation and the least important items in the middle. Contact should always be the last item on the list, place it in a standard location. As mentioned before, users like familiarity.