The top of your email is first to receive valuable attention, some might say that the top is prime real estate. If you haven't revisited your navigation bar in a while, now's the time to do so. Because it is such an important topic i’ll dive in a bit deeper.
In the first article we talked about the goals of your email navigation bar, in connection with your landing page double decker nav bars, and the need to keep things focused. Let’s continue.
Here’s some useful tips to make you pro in navigation bar:
- Using different fonts and typefaces
- Dividing the space
- Promoting Products
- Call out and emphasis
- Selecting to go for Sale and Store
Using different fonts and typefaces
Cusp (Neiman Marcus) uses slashes between its navbar categories. The text in many navbars is uppercase and sans-serif; here it's the exact opposite. Italic is often harder to read, so this should not be considered a best practice.
On the Cusp home page, the navigation bar is all caps:
Pier 1 also uses a serif typeface in its email navbar, with uppercase and lowercase lettering. Also, notice that they group categories together and while it is not a double decker navigation, it still uses two lines, for instance to display “Seasonal & gifts”. Try and read all the items. Pretty hard, huh? The options here are to either omit some of the items, describe them differently, or indeed use the double decker.
Dividing the space
An alternative to slashes in the email navbar is pipes, as shown in this Sur la Table email. This is one way to include more details in a limited amount of space. White space is important. In this case I would have opted to add some extra whitespace between the categories instead of the whitespace to the left and right. You can also see the overlap between “Find your stores” at the top-right and “stores” in the nav bar. Being led by stats, maybe just skip it in the navbar if it doesn’t get many clicks there.
Yet another typographical treatment is bullets, used in this Nicole Miller email. Whether it's intentional or not, the bullets seem to tie in perfectly to the dots over the i's in the logo 🙂 New arrivals might be a hot category for them. Have a look how your most left item is doing in regards to clicks. If it is underperforming, swap them around a bit.
This Lowe's email uses arrows as a click indicator, a graphic element that can draw visitors to your site. Now you could wonder if “WEEKLY AD” adds anything to the understanding of what actually is behind it on the landing page. And if a “My / login” environment should be placed at the left. Design patterns (what people expect) suggest that these are most often found to the right or even separate of the rest of the navigation.
You can use the navbar to direct subscribers to a particular area or category of your site. But you can also promote a product, as in this Dirt Devil email, where swipes is the product:
Your navbar should not be set in stone. Look at this email from Vermont Teddy Bear. Even the navbar has a call-to-action promoting the Royal Baby product at the moment that the new product was introduced.
Call out and emphasis
Your navbar can promote things other than products and services. Take this Tommy Bahama email, for example, which promotes its blog. Giving extra emphasis to “Our new Blog 'Live the Life'". Cool in this instance is that it is an extra call to action. The handwritten font with an arrow (the small one, the other one I added), and an icon make it all stand out and demand just that little bit of extra attention.
Put some color in your messages. You can use color to draw attention to a certain area. This BBC Shop email effectively uses color, playing off the colors in its logo.
The omission of color can add a dramatic touch. Usually reverse type is difficult to read, but in this Marc Jacobs email it does reinforce the brand image of savvy sophistication. I am a bit on the fence about this one because it is definitely not a best practice. Marc, if you are reading this, be sure to do some email A/B tests, flipping those colors!
Selecting to go for Sale and Store
You'll notice that many of the navbars shown above include a link to a Sale section. Know your customers. Know what they do when they get to your site, then have your navbar reflect that. Do you have brick-and-mortar store? A link to the store locator in the navbar can be a good idea.
As said before, you've got to make the most of the valuable real estate in your email. This is especially important for mobile too. Know what? Over half of your opens are probably coming for mobile devices, mobile email statistics indicate so. If you haven't revisited your navbar in a while, now's the time to do so!
Let us know in the comments below what you think works best in email navigation bars!