by anthony on 02/01/11 at 11:20 am
Have you ever wondered why most websites put their Contact Us page last in their navigation? They do this because users follow a natural pattern when they visit a new site.
When users first visit a site, they need to know if the site is worth their time or not. That’s why links to pages that help users learn about your site should always go first in your navigation.
After 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 them to take action.
This natural pattern that users follow gives us two types of links:
- Learning links – links to pages that show and tell users what your website is about
- 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.
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.