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How To Design An Effective Navigation System?
First things first, your navigation system has to be readily
available whenever visitors need it.
Don't make your visitors hunt for navigation or wonder
where to go next. If you've done the job right, it will be right
there when they are ready for it. A simple click will lead
visitors to where you want them to go.
The struggle in creating good navigation system is to figure out what
type of navigation the visitor is going to need, when she is going
to need it, and where the most effective placement will be.
Here are the key aspects you should consider.
Global navigation is a set of links to all the main
sections of your web site that is available at the same place of every page. Global navigation is a
must-have because it gives visitors easy access to the key areas on your site.
If you don't have this type of navigation, visitors
may get lost somewhere while surfing around. When a proper global
navigation system is in place, visitors develop a sense of
familiarity with your site. When
they need to find something, they know right where to look for it.
Global navigation should be across the top of the page or down the
left side, since these two places are where most visitors will look
first. As an example, take a look at the top menu and left-side
menu on this and every page in this web site.
In some cases, you may put the menu on the right
side if that fits your overall page design better. Either way, a
top menu is a must.
On many sites, there are a few navigation options that get the
spotlight at an obvious place on the main page. The idea is to
attract visitors to the key areas - where you want them to go -right up front.
However, many web sites focus
on the wrong things. Frequently, they link to the company history
or the mission statement.
Nobody cares about your mission statement, board
of directors, business philosophy...except yourself. Don't waste
your limited space on these things. In the rare case when a
visitor really wants to know those information, she will find her
way out at the bottom through the "About Us" link.
You should concentrate on
what they need and where your products or services are. Which pages are really
crucial to your business? What are the most popular offers you
have? What information will benefit visitors the most? Put
those things up front.
Contextual navigation refers to links that give more information about
something specific the visitor is trying to do.
On every page of your site, you'll have to anticipate the
questions a visitor is going to have. Figure out what kind of
additional information they might need. Then provide links to that
information at the precise place that they will have the question.
This is the essence of the World Wide Web. All
documents are cross linked. Whenever a visitor wants to know more
about something, she can just follow the hyperlinked text.
Any time you refer to information on another
page of your site or on a third party's site, link directly to
Whenever the visitor gets to the end of a page, they are left
hanging. They have finished whatever it is they were working on,
and now they need somewhere else to go.
This is a critical moment, because it is terribly easy for a
visitor to leave your site if you don't give them somewhere to go.
You have to point them in the right direction.
Never leave visitors without suggestions at the
bottom of a page. You will see the example below;-)
In summary, always ask yourself: Where are the
visitors going to need a link and how can I make that
link really obvious to them?
Feel free to use this article in your
publication or web site.
It's pre-licensed to you.
The only requirement is to include this resource box:
Article by Zac Hewlett at
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