Essentials of Website Navigation

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Forrester Research reports that 50% of potential sales are lost because users can't find the information they want. 40% of users don't return to a problem site. Only about 3% of sites pass Forrester's usability guidelines.

The importance of your navigation structure cannot be over-emphasized. Without some sort of navigation, a site loses all sense of structure and organization. There are many ways of presenting your navigation: in a bar down one side of the screen, along the top and bottom, or in a frame that stays with you throughout your visit to a site. It is important to allow access to the rest of your site from anywhere.

Lead Your Visitors With Clear Navigation
When we go to a Web page, our eyes instinctively look to certain spots on the screen for some clear clues about navigation. We do not expect the navigation on the website to misdirect us; we expect it to lead us.

It is important for your navigation to be located where people expect to see it - in the same place on every page of the site - and for it to work as they expect it to work. It is the same when you drive. Highway departments do not hide road signs; they put them right along the edge of the road where you expect to see them.

Learn to Design a Good Navigation Bar
Just as you wouldn't fail to implement current safety codes before building a house, it's no different with a website when it comes to implementing a good navigation bar. It plays an essential role in creating good first impressions and setting site expectations. New visitors will scan your navigation bar when they first arrive on your site home page.

Besides labeling the bar clearly, when visitors hover the mouse over it, they should see a title with small explanation of what and where the label button will take them. You cannot create a good user experience without a good navigation bar.

Trends - with examples - in Website Navigation
When you design your website navigation system, simple, intuitive and conventional solutions are usually the best option. However, it does not mean that they need to be boring. Since web-layouts do not have any physical representation a user can stick to, consistent navigation menu is one of the few design elements which provide users with some sense of orientation and guide them through the site. Users should be able to rely on it which is why designers should not mess around with it.

Tips for Effective Navigation
The primary aim for effective navigation is get your visitors to stay in your site and also for visitors to easily find what they are looking for easily and quickly. In this article, we will look at some of the basic guidelines you need to follow while designing an effective navigation of your website.

Is Navigation useful?
This is an old article by Jakob Nielsen written on January 9, 2000. One of his research results, he states, is users comment on the content first; if the content is not relevant, then they don't care about any other aspect of the design. Despite this fact, I strongly believe the user must be able to navigate the whole website, if s/he chooses to and find what the user is looking for easily.

How To Navigate This Website
At the end of every page on the left side below the vertical menu, you would see a button for Back To where came from. No matter what page you are on, when you click on this button, it will bring you back to the previous page where you came from.

So, let us say you are at a page on Create Website menu and because you clicked on a link and now you are on Promote Website menu, you click on this button and you will come back on Create Website menu to the page that you previously came from.

How to download pages faster
The basic concept is to download the content and internal links first and then any data that deals with external links. So before the external links are downloaded, the visitors will see my contents and vertical and horizontal menus before they would see the external links.

Because I do not have control over external links and sometimes one or more links seem to take a lot longer, I first download top level messages that you see on each page including the top horizontal menu. Then individual vertical menu and then advertisements if any.

So each page remains the same except the vertical menu when it changes from one topic to another and, of course, the content.

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