A fine balance of all the elements of website design, such as content, images, presentation and navigation, add up to a high quality website. Website navigation, in particular, is an important factor that all web designers must bear in mind when designing a website. A well-designed website has an intuitive and use-friendly interface. Good navigation ensures that users are quickly and easily able to find the information they are looking for.
Here are few things that you should keep in mind when designing website navigation:
- Visitors should be able to navigate their way around the website easily from each and every page. There should be access to the home page from any webpage within the website. You can use different web pages, and not just the homepage, as entry points to your site through links on other websites, search engines and social bookmarks.
- Primary and secondary navigation should be designed properly. Primary navigation consists of the most important categories and links while secondary navigation consists of sub-categories and secondary links. Secondary navigation links should be placed below primary navigation links, and should be smaller in size. Alternatively, some space between the primary and secondary navigation will help visitors easily distinguish between the two. If you are using top navigation, you can also place secondary navigation to the page’s left.
- People read content from left to right, hence navigation links on the left are common. A top navigation bar can also be used as it provides more space below for relevant content and information. The navigation scheme should be clear and stand out. Visitors have a tendency to ignore anything that remotely resembles advertisements, so ensure that the navigation bar uses colors different from what you use for online ads. If you intend to add graphics at the page header, place the navigation bar below it to make sure that it isn’t ignored.
- Visitors should be able to find the information they require as quickly as possible. This means that the lesser the number of clicks needed to access the information, the better the user experience.
- Proper internal linking is a way of helping visitors find related information easily and quickly. The links to other web pages within the site can be placed in the text or under the text. With internal linking, search engines can also find every page of the site and show them in search results.
- During website design, you should also keep the anchor text of the navigation links short, instantly comprehensible and relevant. Visitors should be able to figure out where the link will lead them. Don’t clutter the page with twenty to thirty links. Keep a reasonable number of links on the page for convenient use.
Another important aspect of the website design process is testing. Have inexperienced users navigate through your site and see if they find the navigation intuitive. This ensures that users will be able to make their way around your site comfortably and quickly.
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