Why the Contact Us Page Always Goes Last

by on 02/01/11 at 11:20 am

Have you ever wondered why most websites put their Contact Us page last in their navigation? Most websites do this because users follow a natural pattern when they visit a new website. When users visit a new website, they need information to know if the website they’re on is worth their time or not. That is why links to pages that help users learn about your website, such as the About Us page, should always go first in your navigation. However, when users have learned enough about your website, that’s when they’re ready to take action. If the last link in your navigation is the Contact Us page, you’ll make it easy for users to take action after they’re done learning about your website.

This natural pattern that users follow gives us two types of links:

  1. Learning links – links to pages that show and tell users what your website is about
  2. Action links – links to pages that prompt a response from users

Learning links should always come first in your navigation. Each learning link should take users to a page that not only explains what you’re about, but builds up your credibility. Building up your credibility first is important because users don’t know you yet. To get users to act or respond to you, they have to see that you’re legit and trust you. Once they do, they’re more likely to take action.

Action links should always go last in your navigation. These are links to pages that prompt a response from users. Whether it’s contacting you, subscribing to you or following you on Twitter, what you should do here is stop explaining what you’re about and start asking users to do whatever it is you want them to do. Whether they agree to do it or not, depends on how much they like your content.

By putting the Contact Us page at the end of your navigation, you’re giving users the opportunity to act when they’re ready. Putting your action links before your learning links would not only get in the users way, but most users won’t even look at them. What they look for first are your learning links. Not putting your action links last only makes it harder for users to find what they want. You’re also showing users that your navigation is not organized to their needs. This could affect their trust in you and cause them to leave your website.

Why the Contact Us Page Always Goes Last

The chances of users taking action for you are slim if you place your action links before your learning links. Most users don’t act first and learn later. They need information about you first, so that they can decide to act or not. If you don’t give users the information they need to decide up front, you’ll force them to finally decide with the back button.


Why the Contact Us Page Always Goes Last Why the Contact Us Page Always Goes Last

Author and editor-in-chief of UX Movement. Loves great web experiences and fights for the user.

10 Responses to “Why the Contact Us Page Always Goes Last”

  1. Muhammad Ghazali

    Feb 1st, 2011

    Hei, a good article by the way.
    In my perception here is you explained the most websites like personal website or company profile website.
    So, is nat­ural pat­tern you described here can be applied to all kind of websites?
    Thank you

    • anthony

      Feb 4th, 2011

      I think the general principle can be applied to most website navigations.

  2. Kenny Brijs

    Feb 2nd, 2011

    Interesting article.

    Can I give some constructive criticism?
    Though I enjoyed it, I do feel like I have been told some concepts 2, 3 to 4 times. I suppose that there isn’t much more to say about the subject, and that a really short article isn’t appealing.

    But maybe it might be better off just saying the necessary, even if it makes the article look short. Maybe even more people will read it when it’s shorter.

    Again, don’t mean to break it down, just to build it up ;)

    Greets

    • Janny

      Feb 26th, 2011

      There isn’t much more that can be said about it, its quite clear. Logical ordering and naming of the groups of navigation.

      Learning links
      Action links

  3. Andres Max

    Feb 2nd, 2011

    Always like to read posts like these, explaining the fine little details on ux details we take for granted day by day.

  4. MikeH

    Feb 3rd, 2011

    Interesting observation. It might be because I design sites that I find myself looking, almost imediately, for the contact link. I’m always curious to know the method that people (or companies) impliment to get connected to. There’s some really creative contact pages; in fact, some of them are downright creative!

    I think it is at the TOP of the !important list when putting together a commercial site, without doubt.

  5. Maksim Shaihalov

    Feb 10th, 2011

    Inter­est­ing survey. I think it’s just the most popular place for Contact Page.

  6. John B. Mull

    Sep 30th, 2011

    Very well-written and clear article. Brief and to the point in explaining how users access a site over time. As professionals, we tend to forget that there are beginners among us, with many articles out of their reach technically. Thanks for writing for the beginners and reminding the already learned.

  7. Csongor Fabian

    Jan 24th, 2012

    Interesting article. However I don’t think that is totally applicable for every kind of sites. Let’s look at a web application for example: these kind of interfaces should show the information needed for understanding the purpose of the application for the first sight. User don’t even have to select any of main navigation elements, they should be able to start using the app immediately (even without any annoying registration procedure – in the period of “first sight engagement” there is no place for a process like registration).

    Another problem with rearranging the navigation this way, that there is a strong cognitive pattern in most users to search for these on the right side of main navigation. I remember that I was quite angry when Soundcloud put the “Sign in” to the left side of nav and I didn’t found it for 10 seconds.

    That’s just another opinion : ) I enjoyed the article also.

  8. Alan

    Apr 30th, 2014

    It is an interesting article, I definitely will put this to a test on my website. I think that’s what this article lacks.

    It’s a good theory, but are there any real numbers behind it? Did your conversion rate increased by switching the order of your navigation?

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