Small business owners and solopreneurs have a lot on their plates, so much so that it makes success hard to find. After all, they have to come up with an original idea and put it into practice. Then, they have to secure the money to keep the business going. All the while, they have to compete with the big dogs of business in a totally unfair environment. But there is still one tool that, if done well, can level the playing field: a website.
With the help of a good website, a small business can become one of the leading lights in an industry… if the site doesn’t include any of these all-too-common navigation errors:
Instead of going with the tried and tested method, you have sought to be different. Full marks for creativity, but the odds are that you’re ahead of your time. At the minute, research shows that visitors like a standard format style. That means they want to see horizontal navigation along the top of the page, and vertical down the side. Sorry, but the bounce rate tends to be a lot higher on the sites that play with formatting. Creativity is vital, just not with the features that customers become accustomed to using.
REST or SOAP?
Nope, you haven’t stumbled onto a weird business/lifestyle blog. REST and SOAP are acronyms for web service communications protocol. In plain terms, REST accesses data while SOAP performs operations. Recently, there has been a lot of emphases placed on which techniques sites use. The REST vs. SOAP question is one you must answer for the sake of your navigation. Sites that choose poorly are the ones that suffer from buffering and slow loading pages. Today, REST has taken over as the market leader. Still, that doesn’t mean SOAP isn’t a useful tool. Which one you choose depends on the software of the site, so educate yourself on this issue before you even start to work with a designer on your site.
Drop down menus
The first sites once thought that drop down menus were an excellent way to add value. The Nielsen Norman Group disagrees. According to their research, site drop down menus have one major flaw. The flaw is that they are annoying! Often, users already know what they want to do as the brain thinks quicker than the hand moves the mouse. So, they feel frustrated when the box prevents them from continuing. Also, there is an issue with drop down menus and web searches. Specific tags and labels are a far better choice.
Too much choice
Everyone has seen the sites that have hundreds of link on the homepage. The bad news is that more than eight is a mistake. Humans have short-term memory issues, so they can only remember up to six links. The rest of the links are pointless, which means they don’t add value. And, if they don’t add value, they take away from the experience. Also, it’s important not to overwhelm the users.
Customers have to make choices, but not too many as to cause confusion.
Make sure your website is using the most up-to-date navigation and you’ll be taking a big step forward to mastering the Internet as a tool for business growth.