Behind every successful brand, there’s a well-designed website. And the first step in web development is flawless navigation. It’s one of the most important aspects of good web design as users use it constantly, finding relevant content and features of your website. Thoughtful navigation design is an integral part of the success of your brand as a whole. Navigation helps your users understand the site’s content and keeps them just where you want them – on your site, not someone else’s. What matters is not how much time you invest in creating good content, but whether your user can find it.

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More than 90% of consumers say your website must be easy to navigate, or they leave and never come back.

So what makes a user-friendly navigation design? The answer may be different for everyone, as it depends on your target audience and the purpose of your site. Below you will find some navigation best practices and current trends.

UI and UX design trends to consider for your website’s navigation 

Now websites are created daily, each with a specific design or architecture. Here are listed the most essential 7 UI/UX trends in 2023 that you can draw inspiration from and develop new ways to engage your users.

1. Simplified navigation

The minimalist approach is the key. Users want to find what they are looking for quickly. Refining and reducing the number of links (URLs) in the navigational section can improve the user experience and highlight the most critical sections. Instead of clogging up the navigation with many different links, whenever possible, it’s a good idea to move less critical links to the site’s footer. Pages look simpler, then. Use no more than 5 to 7 links, especially regarding streamlined site navigation bars. The idea is that people can’t effectively store more than seven items in their short-term memory simultaneously.

Therefore, 5-7 are the perfect numbers for the site UX navigation to keep your users focused on context. Of course, if this is an e-commerce site, using simple navigation is not the main goal. In that case, it makes sense to provide a structured layout so that even an elaborate mega-menu won’t cause user frustration. If you want to add more links, group items together and use formatting to make everything easy to figure out.

2. Going out of the box

An unconventional approach to website UX can come across as overcomplicated and too contrived in many cases, as it’s not very common on the web. Before you decide to approach unconventionally, you need to consider the target audience that will be using the site. Changing the scheme that the user is used to will undoubtedly take some time. But if we know that our users will trust us enough to use the site – it’s worth standing out in the market.

3. Hover effect design

Even though it’s 2021 and beyond, many websites still don’t take advantage of the potential that adding a hover animation effect on certain elements can give them, making them more vivid and user-friendly. This is said to be one of the commonly used effects to enhance the user interface and is incredibly helpful in increasing the interactivity of a website. The more visitors interact, the more time they spend on your website.

4. Breadcrumbs navigation

It’s not rocket science, but with heavily developed websites, using breadcrumbs is invaluable. They make it easier for users to navigate the site, assuming the content and overall structure make sense. It has always been the so-called secondary navigation, but users like it when the main navigation doesn’t meet their needs. Primarily, it shows people their current location about higher-level concepts, helping them understand where they are to the rest of the site.

5. The hamburger button

This topic is a bit controversial even when used on websites. Hamburger menus can be a great place for links that don’t directly serve the purpose of your website, used just as an additional bar. After all, you never want to overwhelm users with too many choices. When people are faced with many choices, they can get frustrated and don’t choose at all.

One study conducted by decision-making expert Sheena Iyengar found that people are 10 times more likely to make a purchase when they have fewer options. A hamburger menu can be a great way to clean up a cluttered site. However, keep in mind when designing a site with this type of menu that what is not visible at first glance may be less relevant to the user. 

6. Accessibility design

Although the colorful navigation bar that we designed might look cool, ask yourself: how accessible is it? Since the navbar is one of the most essential elements on the site, you need to provide a smooth experience for every user.

Let’s make sure the typography is readable – this is done by using the proper color contrast and appropriate font size. We recommend sticking to black or white text and using a minimum 14/16px font. It’s also great to support voice search for voice assistants that are popular nowadays.

Use a visual indicator for active states – usually, color is used here, but it’s a good idea to go a step further and include another visual cue for those who are colorblind.

7. Mobile-friendly site

Creating a good-looking site both in the browser and mobile devices presents several challenges. The most important benefit of a responsive layout is the guarantee that any user on any device will have the best possible user experience. Here comes the hamburger menu again – it’s irreplaceable. Thanks to it, we can hide the entire navigation under one button, which on a responsive mobile version is a must-have. Of course, it’s worth considering the menu’s readability if our site is complex. It’s also worth designing this experience to scroll properly on mobile. 


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The importance of an excellent UI navigation menu on a website

According to a study by a leading marketing agency Tank Design, published in Forbes, website navigation can cost you lose a fortune if done poorly. Moreover, according to a study by renowned website usability expert Jakob Nielsen, the average website visit lasts less than a minute. If your website navigation doesn’t fulfill its objective, you won’t have a chance to prove to potential customers that your business and product are worth their time and conversion.

Here you read about some of the website navigation trends you should follow when creating your website. You can also explore last year’s UI and UX design trends in TrendBook 2022. Whether you follow any of them or come up with your trends, make sure it’s in line with the nature of your target audience. Good luck!