Friendly Menu Systems
When it comes to navigation on your web site, simple and intuitive menus are a tried and true solution. Your members are savvy users who expect a clean and unobtrusive means of getting around your web site. Many ideas, like a floating menu that moves or a menu at the bottom of the page, sound great on paper, but don't translate well to your members' daily experiences. It's best to stick with the classic solutions that have weathered the demands of constantly changing expectations. For information-dense web sites, consider a multi-column menu, which combines minimal intrusion with highly organized navigation, such as seen here at the web site of Cobb EMC.
Best-in-Class Example: Check out Central Electric Cooperative's menu systems. Their main navigation menu is clean, and positioned at a spot where you would expect. The main menu utilizes columns, but not so many that you are confused by the presentation of the secondary links. Finally, the menu sytem really shines on mobile. The main menu is no longer the focus, only the important quick links buttons are visible. A slide-out menu is now available to better display the navigation in a mobile friendly format. A slide-out menu option also allows for better inclusion of branding, contact information and even a mobile friendly search feature.
Understanding your AudienceOne of the most important design mistakes is overlooking understanding your audience needs. It's never bad to have multiple choices to get to the same resource. If you perform website satisfaction surveys, that is the perfect time to capture this type of information from your membership. You may find that paying the bill, checking outages, locating contact information or signing up for service are the important areas of your site. Focus on highlighting these areas for your core navigational experience.
A few tips to ensure navigation to these key areas is effective. Create specific navigation labels, use no more than 2-3 words and start with the most information carrying word. Reserve one color for CTAs (call to actions) on your website and don't use it for anything else.
Best-in-Class Example: Check out Rappahannock Electric Cooperative, to witness how effective their header, navigation, and focus links are on the homepage. There is absolutely no question how to login to your account, find the outage center, start service, or find almost anything else that is important to their members. Notice there are actually multiple ways to perform the same tasks as well.
Key Visual ElementsMake sure the key navigation elements on your page stand out in an impressive way. These areas should not look like other normal links. And buttons to large features of the site should not resemble buttons that point to less important areas. Each of these key areas should have a special look and feel, perhaps even a custom element created just for these functions. Make them look special and your members will notice them first, before clicking on any other areas of your site. This is an effective design solution to get your members to the content they need quickly.
Best-in-Class: Head over to Crow Wing Power, to see a variety of custom designed elements that make their website features really stand out from the pack. Crow Wing Power took advantage of our custom premium website template services to bring extra design emphasis to their new website.
Footer InformationIt's easy to forget about the footer of your website, because hey it's all the way at the bottom of the page, right? This might be true, but imagine your footer is as important as your header, it can really make the aesthetic of your visual design come together.
The footer is also an incredible way to communicate the navigational key points of your website (again). Common content for effective footers include a logo that links to your homepage, social icons, quick links, and detailed contact information. Bonus points for adding legal or privacy information to your footer, which can inform your users about cookie usage, without the need for an annoying pop-up.