Optimizing the website menu for better SEO benefits and amazing user experience is not a choice in these days. You have to be smarter with your tools and design strategy, but, when you take the wrong way, you will miss lots of things. I’ve seen lots of sites with amazing content and they have lots of readers who share the content.
However, there are many of these websites that add icons in every menu item. That seems great and attractive, but, if you look in-depth, things will be different.
My simple advice for every blogger and webmaster is to forget using icons in the menu. People want to read the content first, and if you use images and other visual content, that will be great also. But, all that should be included in the main page content, and never affect the user experience.
If you take an example of a menu that you’re seeing now at the top of the page, you will notice that I’ve made it simple, with no extra elements. When you want to find something like category or page, you have just to look in that section and everything is clean.
I’ve created that simple menu after running a few tests during a full week. I noticed that users are clicking the wrong menu items many times. That’s because of the confusion that icons make. But what’s even looks clear is that the user itself will lose some 20 to 50% of concentration on every element.
It’s like adding more content in the menu, when you should only use the half of that same space. In other words, it seems that using icons in the menu is a wrong idea, and that’s why using it is a waste of time. There is no need to worry about the menu at all. Make it simple as you can, add the most important categories if you have dozens of them.
Remember that Google needs to follow your main menu structure to understand the site content. So, you have to add categories there, but, without making the menu looks long and unclear.
The same thing applies for the drop down icons, they look small compared to PNG images or so on. But the truth is that creating a long list of items in your menu make users confused, and even, unhappy. Put yourself in their places or simply, ask someone who can be a friend to visit your site, and send suggestions. Ask people how they feel and what they find it wrong.
Of course, search engine crawlers should be able to access your site. It will be easier for them to access a simple website menu items than flowing dozens of links and subcategories.
On the other side, if you think about vertical menu, then, things can be a little different. Simply, because icons in every item can look clean if you make them small, and spaced from the menu link. In this case, icons can’t be a problem if you keep them simple and spaced with 5 pixels, at least, from the menu item.
The new web design is focused on perforce and speed. You can find lots of sites that use clean menu without any icon on them. So, why should you add them on your site?
Make sure that your menu is placed at the top of the page, or, at least, below the header if you have it. The footer area can include other links, like the contact page, and similar content. For example, you can add a specific page if you want.