Peter Peter - Founder, UserActive

How To Make Your Software Navigation User-Friendly

software navigation quick fix for SaaS products

Do you get the feeling that your software navigation isn’t user-friendly? It isn’t leading users in the right direction? Is your user retention dropping because users can’t find value quick enough? Are users leaving because they couldn’t find important features in your SaaS?

In this blog, we will give you a quick fix (in under 5 minutes!) to significantly improve your software navigation, so your users actually find the value your product provides and stick around!

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The Pitfalls of Poor Software Navigation

Software navigation plays a pivotal role in shaping the user experience of your product. If users struggle to find their way around your platform, it can lead to frustration, reduced engagement, and ultimately, increased customer churn.

Users who cannot quickly locate the value your SaaS provides may seek solutions elsewhere, potentially opting for your competitors’ products instead. As a result, your business may suffer from a loss of competitiveness and decreased market share.

Bas version - not user-friendly software navigation
Sometimes, as Product Designers, we’ll find platforms with structures like this one, with no location cues.

Why Software Navigation Matters

Here at UserActive, we work closely with our clients to identify their business problems and address them effectively. Time and time again, we encounter that your customers get lost on the platform. Either that or they can’t find the product value fast enough to consider your solution over their competitors.

User satisfaction and retention are closely tied to the navigability of your software. Imagine your platform as a complex landscape; without clear signposts and directions, users will feel lost and disoriented. This lack of direction not only impacts user experience but also hinders the realisation of your product’s potential value.

Common Mistakes in Software Navigation

In this blog, we’ll give you a quick fix to help your users get less frustrated and actually find the value your product provides. We’ll discuss the principles of providing clear location cues, including section titles, subtitles, breadcrumbs, and a back button. By the end of this, you’ll understand these signalling principles and will have a tool to improve your feature’s findability and reduce your users’ frustration.

Principles of Clear Software Navigation

Using Titles and Subtitles in Your Navigation

One of the fundamental ways to guide your customers is through section titles and subtitles. These help users quickly grasp the content within a specific section or page. By using descriptive and concise titles, you can give users a clear understanding of what to expect.

Heading and subheading example

Consider your section titles as the chapter headings of a book. They should be informative and self-explanatory, allowing users to anticipate the content that follows. Subtitles, on the other hand, act as subsection headers, breaking down the content into easily digestible portions. This approach enables users to skim through the page and jump directly to the information they need.

The Power of Breadcrumbs in Software Navigation

What are Breadcrumbs?

For SaaS founders and Product Managers who may not be familiar with the concept, a breadcrumb is a navigation aid commonly used in web interfaces, including SaaS platforms.

It serves as a trail of links that shows users their current location within the platform’s structure. Just like the breadcrumbs Hansel and Gretel used in the fairy tale to find their way back home, digital breadcrumbs allow users to retrace their steps within the software application.

Breadcrumbs typically appear near the top of a webpage or app screen, right below the navigation bar or header. They consist of a series of clickable links, starting from the top-level page (often the homepage) and proceeding to the current page the user is viewing. Each link in the breadcrumb represents a level in the hierarchy of pages the user has visited to arrive at the current location.

Here’s a simple example of how breadcrumbs work in a SaaS platform:

Let’s say a user signs in to a project management software and follows this path:

  1. Home (homepage)
  2. Projects
  3. Project A
  4. Task List
  5. Task X (current page)

In this scenario, the breadcrumb trail displayed at the top of the Task X page would look something like this:

Home > Projects > Project A > Task List > Task X

An example of Breadcrumbs in Software Navigation
An example of Breadcrumbs in Software Navigation

Using Breadcrumbs in Your Navigation

Breadcrumbs are especially handy when users want to backtrack or explore related content. By clicking on any of the links in the breadcrumb trail, the user can easily jump back to that specific level of the platform’s hierarchy. For instance, if the user wants to return to the list of projects, they can click on “Projects” in the breadcrumb trail.

By incorporating breadcrumbs into your software navigation, you empower users to explore your platform with confidence, knowing they can retrace their steps at any time.

The Essential Back Button for Seamless Software Navigation

Using a Back Button in Your Navigation

Lastly, let’s talk about the humble yet essential back button. The back button is a universal navigation element that allows users to return to the previous page or step in their journey. It offers a sense of control and familiarity, enabling users to backtrack without feeling disoriented.

The back button serves as a virtual safety net, reassuring users that they can easily undo any actions or decisions they’ve made while exploring your platform. It becomes especially crucial when users encounter dead ends or wish to backtrack to a previous page for reference.

Where to put your back button in your software's navigation
Where to put your back button in your software’s navigation

When adding a back button, ensure it’s clearly visible and easily accessible, usually placed in the top-left corner or as part of the navigation bar. Make sure the back button is consistent across your platform, maintaining a smooth user experience across different sections and pages.

The Key to Better Software Navigation

Navigation is a Key Part of User Experience

In conclusion, implementing clear navigation elements such as titles, subtitles, breadcrumbs, and a back button is crucial for improving the user experience and driving user engagement. By guiding users through your platform, you enhance their ability to find valuable features, reduce frustration, and increase overall satisfaction.

Investing in clear navigation not only benefits your users but also contributes to the success of your business. Users who can easily navigate and find value are more likely to stay engaged, convert into loyal customers, and advocate for your platform.

A User-Friendly Software Navigation. Follow this example for your SaaS
A User-Friendly Software Navigation. Follow this example for your SaaS

Your users are on a journey and it’s up to you to guide them

In a nutshell, it’s essential that you take the time to prioritise and optimise your navigation elements. Your users will thank you and your platform will thrive. Start implementing these software navigation best practices today, and watch as your user retention and satisfaction soar to new heights!

Need a hand?

At UserActive, we help SaaS founders create meaningful products users love.

Click here to book a no-obligation call to see if we’re a good fit to help you and your team!

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