Peter Peter - Founder, UserActive

5 Tips for Better Software Navigation

Software navigation should serve users by making it easier for them to access and understand the features within your software. If you’ve been having difficulty with sprawling software navigation, then this article will help. We will be sharing five tips to create better software navigation. We regularly design software navigation and we often experience the same five issues. Let’s take a look at them right now.

1. Gain the New User’s Perspective

The first thing that you want to do is to gain a new user’s perspective. When you’ve been working on your product for so long, it is very difficult to see objectively the same point of view that new users have. To imagine looking at your product for the first time may be hard because you’ve lost the ability to see the wood for the trees. It very much helps to get a fresh pair of eyes on your product and the best way to do this is by speaking with your ICP or your new users. Try to get their opinion and their impression and use that to your benefit. That will help you start to think about how to restructure your navigation in the best way to serve newcomers.

2. Group Features Logically

The next step is to group your features logically. Something that happens over time is that navigation loses its structure and a good thing to do is to readdress it. Start thinking about how you can group your features logically into feature sets that make sense together, or tasks that correspond to the same kind of activity. Our recommendation for this is to have around 5 to 7 top-level menu items in your navigation. Any more than that gets a bit confusing, but you can have less if you have a simple product or a micro SaaS that focuses on one specific task.

3. Consider a Hierarchy of Elements

The next step is to consider a hierarchy of elements. What are the features that are most frequently used in your software and what are the most important? If you make a list of those things, you can then organise your navigation accordingly. The first items in your menu should be the most frequently or most important features in your software.

4. Promote User Journeys

As a next step, it is a good idea to promote user journeys. Now that you’ve structured your navigation, you might want to have another look at it and ask yourself, “Does this promote the user journeys?” or the most frequently conducted tasks in your software? If it doesn’t, then you should consider adding these into your navigation or creating elements on your screens that make it easy to access them. For example, if you have a CRM a very common task might be adding context to that CRM. So, does your navigation make it easy to access and perform this frequently required task?

5. Consider Feature Activation

Once you’ve got all of that done, the last thing you want to do is consider feature activation. It is important to get users to use the features regularly and make them an important part of their workflow. Does your navigation promote feature activation? What we usually do to help this is to create submenus or mega menus with descriptions of specific features. We can also highlight them and/or use some graphics or icons to make them stand out. In this way, it’s easy for new users to understand, solely from your navigation, what the features are and it’s also easy for your regular users to access them.

There we have it, these are some ways you can improve your navigation. If you need help working on product design, please book a call with us here. In the meantime, I hope this article has helped you to improve your product, get more users and grow!

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