We design a lot of dance studio websites, and when working with a new customer the important question of navigation invariably arises. When having a dance studio website designed, it’s natural to think about what it will look like – color scheme, studio photos, background – and also about the content that will go onto your webpages. Just as important, though, is to consider your website’s navigation, and what the experience will be like for your dancers, dance parents and prospects.
Each link on your navigation bar leads visitors into a new area of your dance school’s website. This is a great opportunity to help guide them to each area with ease and simplicity. If your navigation is intuitive and organized, it will make for an user-friendly experience, resulting in a positive feeling about your studio (and by extension, more dance students coming through your doors).
We’ve all been on sites where we’re initially interested, but quickly start to feel like we’re stumbling around in the dark as we try to find answers to our basic questions. If new prospects are finding your studio’s website, the last thing you want is for them to leave in frustration!
Here are the top 3 navigation ‘best practices’ you can use on your dance studio’s website:
Each link should have the shortest name possible. Instead of ‘What our Dance Parents are Saying’, it’s better to use ‘Testimonials’. Instead of ‘Policies, Tuition, and Forms’, try ‘Studio Info’. And instead of ‘Our Dance Class Schedule’, use ‘Schedule’.
When people click on the navigation button for ‘Schedule’ and go to the page, the page heading in the main content area can say ‘Our Dance Class Schedule’, but if you have the whole page name in the navigation button, you will either run out of room or you will lose the attention of the visitor.
Of course, there are many other viable options, but these common webpage names have worked well for our customers:
- Studio History
- Contact Us
You can also combine two pages that work well together. For example, instead of a ‘Tuition’ page and a ‘Policies’ page, you can have a ‘Tuition & Policies’ page, and use mini-links at the top of the page to direct people to various parts of the page. The combined page still has a fairly succinct heading, and you can have fewer pages that way.
Deviating from the norm is perfectly fine; just make sure it’s obvious what a visitor can expect to find in each portion of your website.
It doesn’t matter how dynamic, beautiful, or captivating your website design is if your users can’t find your class schedule, location information, or how to register when they’re ready. If your dance school’s website has many pages (more than 7 or 8), it may be best to organize them by category and have a drop down navigation bar.
Drop down navigation menus allow dance parents and prospects to scan the different types of content in each section of your website without unnecessarily clicking through the pages of your site. It keeps the organization of your website cleaner. And the cleaner the navigation, the easier people will be able to find what they are looking for!
3. Nav bar orientation & location
Which is better for users, a top or left navigation? In the early days of websites, an argument could be made for a navigation bar in a column on the left, but no more. It is 100% best practice to have a horizontal navigation bar at the top of your webpages.
We all expect to see a clear, intuitive website navigation menu at the top of the page. Give the people what they want — a user-friendly website!
Besides the all important user-friendliness, top navigation also uses minimal vertical space, which allows you to occupy the content area of your page with content only.
And a bonus tip:
Make Your Logo Take a User Home
For those dancers/dance parents that need to leap back to your homepage, make sure your logo is clickable and takes a user back home. This is a common convention and many visitors to your studio’s website will expect it to be the case. Studies are showing that this logo link is used far more often than realized. A perk to doing this is that you don’t need to have a ‘Home’ button on your subpage navigation bars, leaving more room for other headings.
People generally don’t like to feel lost, and if users can’t easily navigate to what they’re looking for, they’ll move on to their Facebook page, or worse yet, the website of a rival dance studio. By keeping the user in mind and your navigation simple, logical, and consistent, you’ll create happy visitors that stay longer and visit more often!
In need of a new website for your dance studio? Take a look at our dance web design portfolio, and see whether we’re a good fit!