Great Navigation for Commercial Agents
20 December, 2011 | Web design
The first contact most potential clients and employees will have with your company will be visiting your website. From that initial contact your audience will continually refer back to this powerful ‘touch point’.
Its staggering then that a large proportion of the UK’s chartered surveyors and commercial property agents feel happy to be represented by a drab and out-dated website. Yet we are seeing an increasing amount that are looking to improve their online appearance and seize the opportunity that this will bring them in a competitive marketplace.
Nevertheless, although great branding and evocative design may well capture the clients’ attention during that important initial 3 seconds, something as mundane as your websites navigation could play a huge part in whether they stay, return or even contact you.
You could be forgiven for taking the humble navigation bar for granted, yet it can be a powerful tool encouraging the user to stay and ultimately return to your website.
Frequent user research carried out across many sectors has shown that users can be irritated and even feel obstructed by poor navigation. We talked in the past about the impatient behaviour we all exhibit on the web and poor navigation will compound this. In fact 40% of visitors will not return to a website that they felt delivered a poor experience.
This stat should be extremely worrying for a huge proportion of the commercial property sector. Think of the amount of potential commercial tenants, landlords, developers and investors that could have been lost, never to return, even before you had the chance to speak to them.
Where To Start
Review the content for your website. Always put yourself in the customer’s position. How will they be using your website and what information will they want to find first? We know for instance that 70% of the traffic to property websites hit the property search within the first three seconds for example. This is both commercial landlords and tenants.
Space is at a premium on your website, so limit the choices on your navigation bar. You also need to facilitate a range of screen sizes. The practical issue is that to accommodate all your options you could have to reduce the font size so much on each menu choice, that it renders them illegible.
If you have 8 or more options on your primary navigation you’ll also confuse and confound the customer. Remember, they are impatient. If they can’t find the information they need quickly, they’ll leave. Ideally you are looking for between 4 and 6 primary navigation options, no more.
Being In The “Right” Place
Website design is awfully conventional. We all read from left to right and equate moving right to moving forward. We therefore naturally assume that actions will occur on the right. The exception to the rule must therefore be the “Home” link, which you should position left as we all see this as going backwards.
Never try to over complicate or be clever with the language you use on your navigation bar. Strive for single words or short phrases. Ensure those are phrases your audience will be familiar with and common to the commercial property sectors. Unconventionality will only confound the user.
So that means clever terms like “get in Touch” have to be avoided for conventional terms like “Contact Us” or better still “Contact”. And of course remember that issue of space, so try to keep your titles to 12 characters or less. A problem perhaps if a major part of your business is ‘Agricultural Land’! But then would you even be able to afford a website if you majored in agricultural Land?
Don’t Be Flash
It can look pretty and technologically dazzling, but animating menu bars with flash will ultimately frustrate and annoy users of your website.
In general the use of any Flash on your commercial property website should be used sparingly, if at all. Flash will increases page loading times and as we saw in last weeks article, Google now considers page loading times when ranking sites.
Philip Burrows, Marketing Consultant