Although your website’s design should be pleasing to the eye, gorgeous graphics and specialized details can’t replace a good navigation system. The fact is, if your visitor can’t find their way around your site, the graphics won’t matter.
Reviews show that web site visitors first look in the area where the navigation menu is. The navigation menu is usually just underneath the header area or on the left hand side of the web page.
Anywhere your navigation menu is placed, don’t forget to be constant. Therefore, it is important that you place your navigation menu in the same area on each webpage. If your navigational button is represented by an image, use is constantly and with the same image color on each web page. For instance, if you represent your home page with a green house in the left hand corner of your web page, then you must use the same image in the left hand corner of each one of your pages.
Try to make your visitor access what he is seeking within 3 clicks from your home page. If you have a small site, then it shouldn’t be a problem. On the other hand, if your website is large containing many pages, try to devise a navigation menu which can provide access to all areas of your website without confusion.
An idea for large sites would be to use a type of navigation system which is like a bread crumb trail (Homepage > Category > Subcategory > Content). Otherwise, you can use a more dynamic menu which varies according to the page your visitor is on. However, note that search engines cannot be able to spider a sites which contains dynamic menus.
Studies in usability have shown that not more than 8 links must be used on a navigation menu. If your visitor is given too many choices, it will be harder for him to make a choice. Furthermore, many links give an impression of a more complex and intricate navigation system.
There are two reasons why navigation links should be considered a crucial part of your website:
1) They enable your visitor to find contents on your website.
2) Search engines use them to spider your website.
More often than not, users visit your site looking for information. If the information is not provided fast, the visitor will click away and might not return.
It is also important that you design a navigational system that a search engine can spider. Clearly, different search engines spider web pages and rank a site differently. Fundamentally a “bot” or “spider” visits your site looking for a “HREF” link and goes after links to other pages, indexing them as it goes along. If a “HREF” tag cannot be found on a page, the spider is stopped from looking into the site any further.
When you think of your website’s design, make sure you have a good navigational system. You will find it is crucial to your victory!
James Reid is contributing editor at WebDesignArticles.net. This article may be reproduced provided that its complete content, links and author byline are kept intact and unchanged. No additional links permitted. Hyperlinks and/or URLs must remain both human clickable and search engine spiderable.