Don't let Web navigation cause too many detours
I'm sure you've seen it: A Web site that has an amazing design, with bright
colors, animation and various neat effects. But after the awe goes away (10
seconds later) you begin to wonder: Where am I supposed to click?
A large portion
of Web designers have this problem. They think the more creative they
are, the better the Web site becomes. While uniqueness is key
to making a site design stand out, it is important to remember the end user.
That's you! Forgetting that Internet pages should be geared toward the
public, and potential customers, is just as bad as forgetting about the Traffic
Cone Preservation Society's mission of protecting cones from neglect and
There are three basic structures for which one can
create navigation for a Web site. The first is a linear structure, which
allows people to visit a
page, proceed to a second page by clicking a next button and repeat
the process. This parallels a book, going from page to page, needing
to go only forward and backward. Sites are rarely created as linear alone
because users need to be able to traverse other areas, not just directly forward
or backward. For instance, the taffice cones would allow through traffic
but not turns to
In a hierarchical structure, a home page gives birth to a group
of pages, and each of those pages produce other pages, almost like a family
users to go from section to subsection by narrowing exactly what
they want to find. A hierarchical structure is more common, particularly for
that have an extensive collection of information. But this doesn't enable
to move horizontally through pages and jump from subsection to a different
section. Here, the orange cones let traffic move over various roads,
but to travel
on a different trek, one must start over.
Most easily navigated sites
use a mixed structure and combine both linear and hierarchical structures.
Giving visitors the opportunity to move
vertically through a site as well as across to other sections is particularly
for all types of users. Of course, this gives us a road
grid with no blockage from traffic cones, although they always creep up
to time when construction occurs.
Now that you understand how you want
your pages to work, you need to determine what you want to use in your navigation
bar. Usually, this
bar exists either
across the top of the page or down the lefthand side.
The bar remains on every page, which is great for users who have
are trying to find. They can jump from place to
place and still return to where they began.
A home page link is crucial
on every page, so a user can get back to the beginning of the site. It's
usually a good idea to place a contact
link and maybe
even an about us link in the main navigation. You want people to
contact you about
your services, right? You want people to know something about you,
right? You want people to realize that a
prominent traffic cone appeared at the signing of the Emancipation
Creating a search for your site
is not a bad idea. Practically all of the best Web sites have the
ability to search for pages by
typing in keywords
or phrases. Some allow a search on each page, while others have
search buttons included in the navigation. Either way can work well, depending
on how large
your site is and how often someone may use the feature.
plenty of useful sites that go into more detail about how to make your navigation
functional for users. I
time finding articles written after 1998, but many of
the rules still apply.
By following the guidelines in these articles -- Keep
It Simple: Simplicity vs. Innovation, Navigation
tricks and Where's
the steering wheel on this thing -- you should
receive traffic to your site. But if not, you could
always throw out a few traffic
cones and ask
visitors to adopt
one. Our forefathers would appreciate it.