For the best user experience and visitor satisfaction, optimizing a webpage’s navigational capability is extremely important.

To help quantitatively determine just how well a page can do that, we rely on the navigational stress test.

A large percentage of your audience doesn’t visit a page via the home page. Indirect traffic is common as users get redirected to specific pages via, links, blogs, advertisement or URL. Keeping this in mind, it is essential to make each page understandable to the users. If a user is not able to acclimatize to a specific page, they will eventually lose interest and abandon the site. Information architecture plays a vital role in preventing this.

The primary function of any web page is to convey information. For this to happen, it becomes necessary to ask three fundamental questions regarding your page; that is:

  • Where am I?
  • What is this about?
  • Where can I go?

When a user visits your page, he requires answers to these questions. The answer to each of these questions should be immediately obvious to a user.

The basic concept of the navigation stress test is to examine a webpage based on its intended purpose and establish how well the webpage can convey its information. A page should effortlessly display essential information to its visitors regarding where they are and where they need to go. A visitor should have to put minimal effort to get answers to these questions.

How to perform a Navigational Stress Test

Run a user testing session where you present a site to people who are unfamiliar with your website.

Show them a random page on your website (not homepage) and let them answer these questions:

  1. Where am I?
  2. What site is this?
  3. What are the main sections of this site?
  4. Which section is this page in?
  5. How do you raise a level from this page?
  6. How do you get to the site’s homepage from this page?
  7. How do you get to the homepage of the section to which this page belongs?
  8. What does each of the link sets represent?
  9. How would you get to this page from the homepage?

These steps help surface certain usability issues that can go unnoticed.

How to interpret the resulting data

Based on the navigational stress test we conduct, specific elements on a page can be defined as unessential, essential or requiring modification.

One of the best practices to optimize a page’s navigation is to follow these steps:

Remove items that rarely get clicked, if they aren’t critical.

Rename or relabel that rarely get clicked, if they are important.

Move items that often get clicked to the beginning.


The Navigational Stress Test was developed in 1998 when the internet was still in its infancy. That doesn’t make it any less relevant today. In a world where websites can make or break a company, the NST has become increasingly significant for quantifying user interactions.

Information architecture is greatly influenced by a website’s navigation capabilities. To put it simply, it just puts more money in your pocket.

Navigational Stress Tests: How to Increase Conversions With Three Simple Questions?

PS. To answer question #3 from the navigational stress test (What are the main sections of this site?), here are the main categories on, in case you’re interested in a particular topic: