The most important design element on your website

The humble, often overlooked navigation bar:

Despite the necessity of an accessible navigation bar, usability studies on navigation across the web aren’t positive. One study by User Interface Engineering shows that people cannot find the information they seek on a website about 60% of the time. While this failure rate might be acceptable for your average blog, a business website simply cannot afford these stats. Even worse, many users often find navigation usability extremely frustrating, citing annoying hover errors and inconsistencies. Another study by Forrester found that 40% of users do not return to a site when their first visit is negative.

Here’s a simple test: Ask a friend, parent, or someone that hasn’t been to your website that often to go and find something specific on your website. Look at how long it takes them to find it. Can they even find it?

I’m not a fan of drop-down menus, and their usability has only gotten worse now that touch screens have taken off. I’m amazed at how many sites manage to come up with some many links to fill their drop-down menus, despite not having a site with much information on it. I like clean, simple navigation combined strong search technology. We’ve actually gotten rid of categories of content on the Interchange Project because we wanted to make the site easier to navigate.

Source: Mashable.