14th June 2011
Navigation is the basis of how a user experiences and moves around your website and it seems simple enough, but what makes a good one?
I sat down to consider this and realised that the best navigation systems are those you hardly notice. They’re an effortless aspect of a website which you never really have to consider. In short, they just ‘work’.
Put yourself in the role of the user and really think about your interaction with a web page. Whether it’s an ecommerce site where you’re attempting to buy something, or simply for information, there will be minor differences but the basic principles remain the same. What are the challenges?
There are many more, but these are common ones which immediately jump out to me. Now I want you to consider some ways site owners help overcome these challenges, in relation to their navigation. What have they done to make your life easier? I was able to come up with these main points.
So far I’ve covered your main page and post links but a navigation system will often contain a few more elements than this.
You can place links to other pages in the actual body text of the page. This can help users find related information quickly. Internal linking can also help search engine spiders to find their way to every single page.
If you’ve got a lot of content this is a great way to help users find what they want.
Breadcrumbs are a really simple but effective way of helping users navigate back between your sub categories, especially if you have lots.