Each year, thousands of SaaS companies gather around the whiteboard to tackle the thorny task of changing the navigation menu and the taxonomy of the website.

The debates might take hours if not days. More often than not, the outcome is a compromise.

And more often than not, they end up with a navigation menu that is not helpful to the target audience.

Most SaaS websites create a navigation menu based on what they think the visitors need to see and not what the visitors want to see.

Today’s article looks at 126 SaaS companies that registered high growth in the last year.

Why optimize the navigation menu?

The navigation menu has 3 main purposes:

  1. To help visitors find and reach the content they are looking for.
  2. To enhance user experience and make it easy for anyone to navigate your website.
  3. Help Google understand your website structure and index your pages easily.

The link structure of most SaaS websites:

Creating a navigation menu might seem like a trivial task but there’s more depth to this. It’s about creating a smart internal link structure.

You need to make sure content is easily found by search engine crawlers but also take into consideration that you need to not burden the menu and make it easy for people to navigate around and find what they need.

How many sections should you consider?

Most SaaS websites have 5 sections in their menu.

About 80% of the menus contain 4-6 sections.

It seems that this amount of sections allows you to compartmentalize the most important zones of your website while also leaving room for other elements like buttons or phone numbers.

BirdEye has a nice blend of sections and CTA buttons:

This type of layout transitions well from desktop to mobile:

The most popular menu sections

It’s important to see that a lot of websites use the same words when describing sections. This helps with the findability mentioned earlier.

People find comfort in things that seem familiar, and that may increase navigation and CTRs.

Don’t try to think too outside of the box with the main navigation menu section because you might risk confusing the visitors.

Do we need to put more menu on top of our menu?

78.57% of the websites have only one layer of navigation, which seems to say simply is better.

The other 21.43% of the websites that feel the need to offer an extra menu on top of the main one seemed to link to the help, career, log in and international pages.

A strong case for sticky menus

There are certain particularities that most of the analyzed SaaS websites possess.

The first impactful thing would be the fact that 84.13% of them have a sticky bar on the Desktop version.

Some go more aggressive and remove any navigational link in the sticky menu, leaving you with only one choice – SIGN UP.

The most interesting find is that only 61.90% of SaaS websites have a sticky bar on the mobile version.

Drop-down or nah?

78.57% of the websites have a drop-down menu.

Intercom offers us the perfect use case drop-down menu. You can see how they offer visual cues regarding what product features pertain to each use case.

Buttons, buttons, buttons

80,16% of the websites have at least one CTA button in their navigation menu.

66.67% of the navigation menus have one button in the header. It follows on the theory of the 1:1 attention ratio. Because a landing page has one goal, the call to action should work toward that goal.

Conclusion

Navigation menus are detrimental to SaaS websites not only because of SEO but also because they help segment your audience based on their needs or preferences.

If you don’t give them enough choices you risk not capturing their interest or having bad retention rate (because they didn’t fully understand the benefits/features). The same goes for offering a cornucopia of choices. You’re going to confuse them.

For more explanation and real-life menu examples, see the full article below.

Case Study: The Ideal Navigation Menu (126 SaaS websites)

PS. With 5 categories in the main menu GrowRevenue is on par with the best SaaS websites, while managing not to be a SaaS 🙂