A ship captain traversing the open seas without a good
navigation system will surely get lost. Maybe he'll strike sharp
rocks and his ship will sink. A visitor who arrives at your site
and can't navigate it for the information they seek, will surely
get lost also and leave in frustration. Your ship (your web
site) will also sink if this continues to happen.
Good site design means a good navigation structure for your web
site. This means the visitor can find the information with ease.
Put yourself in the shoes of your Grandmother. Would she quickly
and effortlessly be able to find the information she wants, or
know what to click on to make the purchase? Don't think that
just because it is easy for you, it will be easy for others.
Visitors should not need to click more than three times during
their navigation, to find the information they are searching
1. Navigation Styles These can range from navigation buttons,
navigation bars, plain text links, fancy animated graphics or
drop-down select menus. You can also use illustrations,
photographs or graphic images to show your visitor around. For
example, an image map contains one graphic with different "hot
spots"(invisible buttons) that link to other pages.
2. Primary and Secondary Navigation Primary navigation consists
of the navigation elements that are accessible from most
locations within the site.
Secondary navigation elements allow the user to navigate within
a specific location. For example, many sites have a page that
offers information about the company. The primary navigation
element may be an About Us link.
Once the user arrives on the About Us page, there will be other
links (secondary links), which navigate within the About Us
These could be links to Press Releases, Corporate Locations,
Investor Information and so on. These links are secondary
navigation elements because they are relevant to the About Us
page but not the other pages of the site. Therefore, these links
will not be found in other areas of the site.
3. Guided Navigation This is a popular technique, in which you
guide the visitor through your site. Links are provided for the
next step and establishing links that keep the users on track
continues the process. These links should supply the necessary
information, as well as an alternate course clearly marked to
allow the visitor to exit. For example, an online purchase
should lead the user through shipping information, then on to
payment information, then to receipt information.
4. Creating a Navigation Action Plan Determine goals and needs
of your audience Decide what the purpose of your site is and who
your target audience will be. For more in-depth information on
this subject visit: "How to Target Your Customers and Put Them
in a Buying Mood" (www.isitebuild.com arget.htm)
Learn from navigation that works Visit several successful sites
that show good navigation e.g., Fedex.com. These sites show good
Generally, good navigation includes several characteristics:
Offers easy to learn elements Remains consistent Provides
feedback Appears in context Offers alternatives Provides clear
visual messages Offers clear and understandable labels Remains
appropriate to the site's purpose Supports visitors goals and
Providing feedback has the biggest impact on users. Navigation
should tell people, where they are and if possible, where they
have been. Visitors should also be able to easily determine
linked or clickable material.
They need to know whether they successfully made a purchase,
conducted a search, or completed some other task.
Navigation that allows visitors to find information easily and
quickly will contribute to your web site's success. Ask your
grandmother (or someone who is not familiar with the Web) to
navigate your site. If they can find the information they want
within 3 clicks, your navigation structure must be a success.
Part 2 of this article will show "How to Design Your Navigation
Structure and Common Navigation Mistakes to Avoid".
About the author:
Herman Drost is a Certified Internet Webmaster (CIW) owner and
author of iSiteBuild.com. Get a FREE Web Site Designed, when
combined with our Hosting Plan.
(www.isitebuild.com/freedesign.htm) Subscribe to the "Marketing
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