Researching site navigation

The first step to optimizing your website navigation is to understand its current performance. I’ll discuss card sorting and tree jacking in another post, as they might not be suitable for all projects (and they’re useful in their own right.)
I’d like to use some combination (ideally all) of the following to understand user interaction with navigation:
Google Analytics – Ensure your navigation is tagged as an event to study user behavior; if not, use the page as a proxy. Key insights include interest in specific categories, monetization, interaction between navigation levels, and mobile vs. desktop usage.

Heatmaps – Primarily useful for desktop analysis since mobile often hides navigation in a hamburger menu 😦 . Identify which categories and subcategories visitors are clicking on.

Usability testing – Ask participants to find a product they want to buy on a website, and if they use search, prompt them to use navigation instead. Observe their struggles and conduct similar tests on a competitor’s website to compare and understand user preferences.

User videos – Watching people navigate your site can reveal areas of friction that may require optimization.

Now you have a big list of observations about how visitors are using your navigation. Tomorrow we’ll discuss the magical world of tree jacking and card sorting and how that can give you even more insights.