Whether you have thousands of pages in your website or just a handful, your navigation needs to be simple and easy to use. If your website visitors find it too frustrating to navigate your website… be it too cluttered or not enough navigational points… they will leave your website, most likely never to return. Here are some pointers to keep your navigation concise and effective.
Organize your content into no more than seven basic “buckets.”
These “buckets” will form your main navigation that you can display at the top and/or the side of your web page. More than seven will be too cluttered.
Keep necessary, but not necessarily pertinent, links at the bottom of the page.
Consider having duplicate navigation.
For some websites, it is an effective strategy to have one navigation area along the top and another on the side. Some visitors to your website will favor one over the other and if it isn’t there may not even think of looking in the other location.
Make your navigational categories as logical as possible.
If you can, test your assumptions with members of your target market. Once, when I was working on a health care website, we had to change the names of our “buckets” because our target market did not use the same terms we did.
Use sub-navigation on your “bucket” pages, but not your home page.
For example, if one of your main navigational “buckets” is “Portfolio” and contains the samples of your work, then when someone clicks on the “Portfolio” link they should be taken to a page that further breaks down your portfolio into different sections… this is your sub-navigation. That said, drop-down menus are very effective, as well.
Ideally, you don’t want your website to be more than three layers deep… meaning it should take more than three or four clicks to get to any page on your website. The closer you can come to that ideal, the better.
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