We get it, you have a huge website with lots of pages. Your parents must be so proud.
But here’s a little known internet fact: there’s no law saying your top navigation has to contain a link to every single page on your site.
If anything, there’s a rule that says it shouldn’t.
Visitors seek out your navigation because they want to get a sense of what’s available on your site, or because they already know what they’re looking for, and they want to access it.
In either case, the ideal experience is a handful of options, one of which is the one they want.
If it requires a click or two to drill down, that’s not a problem. Nobody minds a few clicks, as long as they feel confident they’re headed in the right direction.
A giant list of options, on the other hand, does not inspire confidence. Instead, it elicits confusion and overwhelm. It asks the visitor to work.
They can scan for the exact word they’re looking for, but there’s no guarantee you call it what they call it.
So they might have to scan several times, then start over at the top, reading each option, one by one, to decide if it’s relevant to their intention. (This is assuming they even remember what they were looking for after 20 seconds of staring at a screen full of text.)
Some visitors will have the patience for this task. Others will opt out of using the navigation, but continue to look for what they want using search or on-page links.
But plenty of them will stare for a few seconds, shake their heads, and close the tab. Off to pursue less painful endeavors.
Here's what you can do
Make the next click easy.
If your top-level navigation has 8+ items, eliminate as many as possible, so it’s easier for visitors to figure out which one to click.
If that means using a dropdown navigation, that’s fine!
But if one of your dropdowns has 8+ items, eliminate as many as possible, so it’s easier for visitors to figure out which one to click.
If that means creating category pages, that’s fine!
Take a look at Hubspot’s navigation:
This is a company with a ton of products, features, tools, and content. Lots of pages.
But their top level navigation only has 3 links, and their biggest dropdown menu just highlights 5 options. There are links to see “all integrations” and “all products” for the handful of visitors who aren’t looking for one of these five. And that’s it.
That means it might take a few clicks to find the exact page you’re looking for, and that’s not a problem. Nobody minds a few clicks, as long as they feel confident they’re headed in the right direction.