How To Structure Simple Navigation Menus For Your Therapy Website

Organizing website content into simple, intuitive navigation is no easy task. It’s already difficult to know what pages should have what content on them and trying to determine what is going to make the most sense to your website visitor when they are on your site and looking for that content can feel daunting.

It’s like you have to read your website visitor’s mind.

The good news is that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel on this. There are thousands of websites online that follow navigation best practices that you can research and implement on your site.

This post outlines some simple primary navigation structures (primary navigation being the main navigation that appears at the top of your website and on every page) that you can use on your therapy website as well as addresses some of the common navigation menu challenges faced by therapists creating their therapy websites.

The Power Of Familiarity

If your goal is creating navigation that is intuitive, keep in mind that things that are intuitive often feel that way because they are familiar. So as you browse this post, ask yourself this one, powerful question:

What would make my navigation feel familiar to my visitor even if it’s their very first time on my website?

Checking in with how familiar your navigation feels from a more global perspective can help ensure you’re on the right track with creating a navigation that is intuitive.

What Not To Do In Your Navigation

  1. Don’t make top level items that contain drop down items link to pages. Whenever you have a drop down in a menu, the top level item should not link to a page itself but rather serve as a container for your drop down items. For example, if you have a top level item called “Services” that contains drop down items to services pages, “Services” would not link to a page.
  2. Don’t have more than 7 items in your navigation as it will overwhelm your website visitor. If you have more content then fits in 7 items, consider if you really need all of the content linked in the primary navigation and if you do, you may wish to consider a secondary navigation.
  3. Don’t include links to utility items like forms, privacy or social media policies, terms of service in the primary navigation. These links belong in a footer navigation.
  4. Don’t use long words or mysterious language. Using conventional language in your navigation ensures your website visitors know where to go to find which content without having to guess where to find what or de-code what will be found when they click.

The Most Basic Navigation Structure

This is the starting place for most therapy website navigation. You’ll want to link to these four pages on any therapy website.

  1. Home
  2. About
  3. Services
  4. Contact

In this case, the services page might link to a single page that contains all of the services listed on the page. This works well for therapists that don’t have many service areas or are highly niched. If you only offer one or two services, this approach may work for you.

Add Services, FAQ, Blog

For many therapists, they will want to have separate service pages as well as an FAQ page and also link to their blog. Here’s an example of what a navigation would look like in that case. Indented items are drop down items for the item above it.

  1. Home
  2. About
  3. Services
    1. Individual Therapy
    2. Relationship Therapy
    3. Workshops
  4. FAQ
  5. Blog
  6. Contact

Keep in mind our aforementioned best practices though and not use top level items as links themselves. So in this case “Services” does not link to a page and acts as the top level container for the drop down items.

Adding Specializations* Pages To Your Navigation Structure

Specializations pages are different from services pages in that they are targeting one specific challenge that your clients may be facing. So for instance, you may be serving three niche groups and wish to really speak to their unique experiences on separate pages.

The navigation in this case will need to match how you are approaching your content pages. In most cases, I would suggest swapping your more generic “Services” pages for your specializations pages.

Example of swapping service pages with specializations pages

  1. Home
  2. About
  3. Services
    1. Therapy for Depression
    2. Therapy for Trauma
    3. Therapy for Relationships
  4. FAQ
  5. Blog
  6. Contact

If you are highly niched in these specialization areas your best fit clients who visit your site will likely wish to visit a page that is about their pain points specifically over something more general like “Individual Therapy” anyway.

This approach of swapping services pages for specializations pages is asking the questions: do you really need both “Services” and “Specializations” pages? Is there something radically different on your services pages that needs to stand apart from a specializations page? If the answers to questions like these is no, then you likely can insert your specializations as “Services”

However, in some cases, you may need both services and specializations pages. Perhaps you have a group practice and need to share information about the services as well as speak to each niche area. Or perhaps you have a type of service that applies to all of the specializations that you have, like a women’s group where the challenges the women are facing could be from a variety of the specializations you see.

Example of having both service pages as well as specializations pages

  1. Home
  2. About
  3. Services
    1. Individual Therapy
    2. Women’s Workshops
    3. Couple’s Retreats
    4. Online Therapy
  4. Areas of Practice
    1. Therapy for Depression
    2. Therapy for Trauma
    3. Therapy for Relationships
  5. Blog
  6. Contact

If you do need both services and specializations pages, you can insert them under drop downs. Also here I’ve removed the dedicated “FAQ” page and instead would suggest having “FAQs” perhaps answered on other pages where they are specific to the service or specialization.

What To Do With Multiple Clinicians?

If you have a group practice with more than two clinicians, you will want to give each clinician their own page. Here’s a good way to organize that.

  1. Home
  2. About Us
  3. Our Team
    1. Sam Harrison
    2. Jessica Williams
    3. Karen Smith
    4. Deborah Green
  4. Services
    1. Therapy for Depression
    2. Therapy for Trauma
    3. Therapy for Relationships
  5. FAQ
  6. Blog
  7. Contact

The above suggests the wording “Our Team” but you might also consider “Our Therapists” or another term that makes sense for your specific audience.

Multiple Location Practices

If you have a practice with unique locations, you will want to have a page for each location. Each location’s page should list the contact details specific to that location including address, directions, phone, map, and hours.

  1. Home
  2. About Us
  3. Our Team
    1. Sam Harrison
    2. Jessica Williams
  4. Services
    1. Therapy for Depression
    2. Therapy for Trauma
    3. Therapy for Relationships
  5. FAQ
  6. Blog
  7. Contact
    1. Mission District, San Francisco
    2. Castro District, San Francisco

Feeling Emotionally Close To Content Can Make Keeping Things Simple Hard To Do

Following this guidance may not be as easy as just choosing a navigation idea and dropping it onto your site. What should you do to when you are feeling so emotionally close to the content that it’s making creating a simple, intuitive navigation difficult to implement? When you have more content to link to or unconventionally organized pages?

Well first, shout out to Melissa in NYC for asking this question. It’s a vulnerable place to be in to admit that emotions can keep you stuck on what many believe it just a matter of science and logic.

But guess what, creating your therapy website is not just science and logic.

You can do all the research in the world, follow it exactly, and it still could not work for you. Marketing is actually a big experiment.

So with that in mind, start exploring the ideas in this post and see if there are any close fits. You may discover that some things can be organized and simplified.

Next, go ahead and implement what is based on best practices (like the ideas in this post) as well as emotionally consistent with the way you’d like to put yourself out there. Basing your navigation on both will mean increasing your website confidence. That confidence will positively impact your enthusiasm towards online marketing as well as shine through the website itself and attract your best fit client.

Also keep in mind that your website can change.

If down the line you discover something doesn’t work, you can change your site’s navigation. Your website can shift and grow with you, they are pretty cool like that, so don’t get so caught up in the now that you forget about the ongoing possibilities for website change.

Simple Navigation Really Works

Keeping your navigation as simple as possible really helps with reducing the cognitive load of your website visitor. Simplicity in this areas means not giving an already stressed out and struggling person in need of your services more to figure out.

Navigation isn’t just about the navigation, it’s also a reflection of how clear you are on your solution. Having a messy or difficult navigation can reflect poorly on you as a professional.

Working to discover the navigation that supports your website visitor best on their journey through your site is the true goal. Asking how a navigation might be familiar to them and how they might be able to find what they are seeking quickly can help keep your navigation planning on track.

Sometimes it will take some trial and error to really figure out what works for your specific practice and some dipping into your heart space too to ensure your approach is holistically aligned.

Is there anything that you are struggling with when it comes to figuring out your website’s navigation? Let me know via tweet or reaching out. I’d love to help guide you on this.

*I’m using the term specializations but don’t necessarily encourage the use of that term on therapy websites as it can come across as insensitive. Kinder ways to communicate the same thing would be “areas of practice” or “what I help with.” I’m also open to suggestions on this.

Kat Love

Hi, I'm Kat! I'm the founder and lead designer here at Empathysites. Therapists helped me heal from childhood sexual abuse so now I help therapists with creating their websites. I write on topics like website design, strategy, and turning website visitors into clients. Reach out anytime if you'd like to say hi. Pronouns: they/them/their