In 2017, more websites will be reducing their primary navigation options.
But why, and who has done this already?
As Michael Sandstrom has previously pointed out on the Econsultancy blog, it’s all about defeating the tyranny of choice.
Michael advocates reducing choice paralysis by choosing relatable products categories, perhaps fewer in number, to encourage a smooth transition through the site.
We highlighted this trend in our 2017 web design trends, and did find a few dissenting voices in the comments, some of which suggested that ‘hiding’ an important category within a more generic one is counterintuitive.
In reality, any change to primary navigation options will be carefully monitored to see if it has the desired affect on customer conversion.
Here are four websites that have reduced their header menu options in a recent redesign. Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
This was Michael’s original example. The old website header includes some rooms, some product categories (such as textiles), as well as an ‘all departments’ tab to catch the undecided.
As you can see from the screenshot below, the Ikea redesign features only four options, as opposed to the original 10.
The main three are the generic ‘products’, ‘rooms’ and ‘ideas’ (perhaps perfect for the dilettante browser). Each has an alphabetical dropdown.
Oasis relaunched its website in 2016 and we covered some of the interesting UX bits on the Econsultancy blog.
Below you can see the old top navigation. It’s not extensive by any means, with six options and a range of categories within ‘clothing’.
However, Oasis has now pared this back in the new design, with four choices available.
‘Shop’ is the main option, and the dropdown here looks not unlike the old header, featuring ‘clothing’, ‘accessories’, ‘footwear’ and ‘collections’.
This is more towards a mega menu, and is arguably more visually salient than the old version.
English National Opera
We covered the English National Opera’s redesign back in March 2016.
The two GIFs below give a good idea of how much the ENO stripped back from its navigation.
Whilst much of this redesign was arguably bringing an old fashioned, desktop-oriented site up to date, there are some features introduced aimed at reducing visitor paralysis.
Look at the cleverly minimised and greyed links for ‘about’ and ‘news’, designed so as not to deflect attention away from buying tickets.
Lastly, we’re going back to 2015. This Asda header was understandably pretty beefy, given the range of products and services the retailer offers.
Dropdown menus were included with some popular categories listed.
Asda’s 2015 redesign is shown below. It’s incredibly simple and quickly funnels the user to ‘Groceries’, ‘Clothing’, ‘Home’ or ‘Money’, without offering any dropdowns.
What do you think?
To me, these reduced menus offer focus as well as a touch of serendipity (in the case of Ikea’s ‘Ideas’ button).
Reduced navigation works for mobile and it keeps the user steadily moving forward.
Have you had experience testing your primary navigation options? Let us know below.