Four Solutions to Navigation Problems in Large Websites

Four Solutions to Navigation Problems in Large Websites

Navigation is one of the most important aspects of web design, but it can become a real challenge when dealing with websites for large corporations. These websites often cater to a bigger audience and offer more information and online services compared to other business sites.

Smaller websites can get away with simply creating a main menu and a submenu, but large websites require something more robust. Traditional menus cannot accommodate the amount of pages and the depth large websites have. They need a system that links all the different levels of content in their website together while making it easier for users to find what they’re looking for and discover related content.

Here are a few navigation solutions to keep in mind if you own a large website or intend to expand your current one soon.

Solution 1: Rich Drop-Downs

Creating drop-downs is an effective way to accommodate more pages in your navigation menu. Some web developers discourage the use of drop-down navigation, but many designers believe it’s a good way to clean up a cluttered menu.

Drop-downs have evolved from simple lists of links to full-blown menus that can include rich media and display several links to pages in different subcategories at once. The Discovery News website’s drop-down menus, for example, even include preview images for their featured articles.

Making sure your menus display all the important links at once in an organized way without going beyond two levels are some of the keys to making your drop-downs user-friendly and appealing to the eye.

Solution 2: Improved Search

Improving your site’s internal search functions can provide a more flexible navigation method. This allows users to actively search for specific information, services, or products on your website.

Some of the additional features you can include in your internal search include auto-complete functions, drop-downs, and radio boxes. You have to determine what your users’ search habits to develop features that make things more convenient for them., for example, has a drop-down menu for categories in their search box so customers can easily find specific products in specific categories.
Adding related or recommended pages to your search results, even in “No Results” pages, can also help users discover and navigate to other parts of your website.

Solution 3: Microsites

Large websites with pages divided into categories or sections can benefit from using microsites. Splitting one website into several microsites is especially useful if you have different products or services catering to different audiences. You can simplify your homepage navigation to a menu listing your microsites’ links, and add submenus to the microsites’ homepages instead of placing everything in your site’s main homepage.

The problem with microsites is that they can sometimes make navigation confusing or disjointed for users. You need to create a universal use interface and come up with similar design themes for each microsite, like BBC did, to keep everything cohesive.

You can host microsites on subdomains (e.g., or simply have them in different folders (e.g. Some companies choose to buy new domains for their microsites, but this might not be a good idea if you want to focus driving traffic to your main website.

Solution 4: Use breadcrumbs

Adding breadcrumb navigation is a simple way to make it easier for users to find their way around your website. Breadcrumb trails show users where they are on your website, and allows them to navigate through your pages’ hierarchy without cluttering your navigation menu.

It is important to note that breadcrumb trails end where the users are, and do not display the child pages that come after the page they’re currently looking at. This makes them difficult to use as primary navigation menus, but large websites can still benefit from using them as navigation aids. For example, the NASA website has a rich, drop-down menu as their main navigation, with a breadcrumb trail and sidebar menu to supplement it.

A combination of these solutions can help you provide a better user experience, but the ideal navigation system depends on your site’ structure and your users’ behavior. Our web designers and developers make sure to take both these things in account when creating your website’s menu system.

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