Are you a beginner to the field of web development and designing?
Then, here are some important tips for you while designing the navigation of a website. Website navigation is often an overlooked part when it comes to website design. It is utmost essential for a website to have good navigation. Why so? In case a website is hard to understand for visitors, they will make sure that they won’t return to that website. It is important that the links are proper otherwise they are ready to go to your competitor’s website.
Benefits of having a website with good navigation
- Increase in the numbers of pages views
- Increased signups, customers, sales, and members
- More revenues and more profits
So, here are some tips for you regarding website navigation
- The first thing which you must bear in mind is – what is the purpose of the website I am designing? This will help you in designing the navigational elements. You should find out whether you want to merely inform the visitor about a product or service or to actually sell the product or service.
- While you are using non-conventional links, explicitly tell the visitor that this is a link. For instance, you are designing a web page wherein you want to use a map showing several different cities and would like your visitor to click on the city name to pull up information about that city. Ensure that you communicate this to the visitor and remind him/her to click on the city name to get more information about that city.
- Next thing to remember is ensure that all the navigational elements are clearly linked by using the standard conventions for links like buttons, menus, underlining the text or changing colour on mouse. Never use vague names for links.
- According to research, most of the users will not click more than three links to get to the information they are looking for. So remember that every page on your website should be reachable within three clicks.
- It is advisable to keep the website simple and not to use flash videos. In case you still want to go for it, and then make sure that you use the META REFRESH tag which takes the visitor automatically to the home page in few seconds. Make sure that you provide the visitor with a clear and a clickable button in case he/she wants to skip that part.
Important Navigation Element Locations
Top Menus – It is the top of the page menu bar. This is located directly below the page header graphic containing the website logo. These menu items may be single links, drop down menus, or expanding menus. Each one of these can be represented by a graphic or just text. In each case a hyperlink is associated with each item so that the visitor can click on to get to the information described.
Bottom Menus – This can be a menu bar or footer. The former ones use graphics or text links while the later use text links.
Left Side Navigation – This is implemented as a column or text area on the left top portion of the webpage. Similar to the top menu, each item can be a single link or an expanding menu.
Right Side Navigation – Not used very often, this is implemented as a column or text area on the top right side of the webpage. It is mainly used for advertisements.
Some Important Navigation Elements
Internal Page Links – Which links are to be prominently displayed depends on the type of website. It is advisable that the very crucial pages should be ONE click away whereas every other page should be within two or three clicks from the home page.
Shopping Carts – In case of an e-commerce website that has a shopping cart for selling products, the view cart button should be clearly shown on each page. It is usually placed on top right side just below or as part of the header.
Order Buttons – in case you are using individual order buttons, these should be large and visible. Remember – the fewer the clicks, the more the number of orders.
Advertisements – These are graphics or text with a hyperlink. Ads are usually used just placed under the header banner, down the right hand side of the page, under navigation elements on the left margin, across the bottom of the page or even interspersed within the test areas of the page. According to research, ads “above the fold” are more effective. This is an area of a webpage that is visible without having the need to scroll.
Breadcrumbs – These are both links and graphical representation of where you are in the site. It is usually located at the top left of the page just under the header. Each word is a link back to the previous page. They are in the form mentioned below-
Home-> Articles-> Marketing
External Links – These are not frequently used inside the text areas in the website. External links are references to information on other sites.
Login Boxes – These should be displayed properly. One can place them on top left, top right or inside the page header.
Site Map – It is a great way to show a website to the visitor. And, the best part is that the search engine spiders like them too. Site Map is a hierarchical listing of every page on your site with a clickable hyperlink to that page.
Downloadable Items – In case you have downloadable items such as audio, video or pdf files on your site, remember to tell your visitor how big the file is. Also, make sure that you communicate in case the file needs a special application to open up. In case an application is required, don’t forget to provide a link to the application.
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