Let the surfers navigate with ease PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 08 July 2010 13:32

Fundamentals of web design

It's great that your website is designed in an artistic and splendid manner. But it will fail to attract and sustain visitors if it does not have a neat , consistent, and intuitive navigational interface at its disposal . There can be no denying that those oblivious of this fact are inching toward their doom on the web. This writing seems to be on the walls…

If the surfers get lost in your site, wanting to get what they look for, probably you are not navigating well toward what your web presence inherently stands for.

Admit it. You, too, are lost. The Web gives nothing to surfers if not easy navigation alternatives.

Solutions at hand? If you manage to persuade your first-time visitors to make one step further from wherever they happen to be, the probability of them getting fairly involved with the content, and the site itself gets a boost. Here are a few considerations that will help you smoothly sail through your navigation system that your site needs to have.

How surfers wish to be guided while they explore your site?

Your website should give a clear idea to the surfers as to where they are at the moment, where they have been few moments ago, and where all they can go rightaway. Let's see in pretty details what the options in each case are.

Letting the visitor know where they are

There is an array of techniques to opt for on your website to tell your visitors where they are. One of the options is to have a clear navigation menu in a prominent location, generally, the left margin or across the top of your page. The current page should be clearly distinguished from the other navigation menu options. This can be accomplished in ways like:

  • If you employ images for your menu options, you can do so by using a different image for the button indicating the current page.
  • If you employ an HTML table, mark the cell corresponding to the current page. This can be done by using a different cell background color.
  • You choose use a different font type or color.

Another effective way of letting your visitors know where they are is to use a "breadcrumb trail". A breadcrumb trail clearly shows the path right from the homepage to the current page. Each component of the path should be hyperlinked to its corresponding web page. Here is an example of a breadcrumb. It is usually found near the top of the page: Home > Articles > Web Design > Current Article

Letting the visitors have an idea where they have been a short while ago

Doing so is very simple and straight forward. The simplest way to tell your visitors where they've been is to give your visited links a different color.

The standard color for visited links is purple, just the same as the standard color for unvisited links is blue. Though the use of these standard colors is highly recommended, you can, however, choose a color other than blue for your unvisited links. The underlying consideration is that you better choose a more subdued tonality of color for visited links. To make it clear, if you use dark green for unvisited links, use light green for visited links

Letting the visitors know where all they can go

On your website, the best way to let your visitors know where they can go is to provide a clear navigation menu. Here are some guidelines that will help you out.

  • Related navigation options may be grouped in clusters. Microsoft's home page is a fine example for this.
  • Make sure the most popular destinations in your site are prominently located or emphasized in your navigation menu. Like for example, Yahoo! presents the links to its most popular sections in bold.
  • Never link to all sections of the site from every section. Mostly, it is enough to link only to the most relevant sections, and to provide a link to the homepage, where comprehensive navigation choices can be offered.

Besides your navigation menu, you can provide your visitors with a Site Map. Some users will be comfortable with it rather than trying to find their way around your site using your navigation menu.

If your site happens to be more than just a simple company brochure, you should provide “ search capabilities ” and include a visible search box in your homepage. The most preferred location for the search box is at the upper right corner of the page.

The search box need not be provided in all the pages of your site. However, a link to a page must be provided to enable your visitors access the Search function. That link must be prominently visible and be named "Search".

What to simply avoid in your navigation system

  • Never scatter your links haphazardly throughout the page
  • Make sure you do not put your menus only at the bottom of every page
  • Never ever make the hyperlinks the same color as the rest of the text
  • Avoid to make the text very, very small or in a strange font
  • Do not let the menu actually move around the screen
  • Exercise restraint to put the menus on a popup window or console of some kind

Your navigation system should make the headway…

  • For your company logo prominently displayed on every site
  • For facilitating people to contact you
  • For due enrichment of your website as it grows over time
  • For linking every page to the home page
  • For keeping it simple and plain—and not surprising anyone
  • For keeping it consistent and for providing context.

The bottomline: Effective navigation essentially calls for being surfer-friendly

It is highly imperative for your website that it is surfer-friendly. It simply means that if it is nice looking, it will not suffice. It has to be easy to surf through as well. All pages on the site should be accessible with ease, with only one or two mouse clicks, and the navigation must be easily understandable.

This way, you will keep visitors on the site longer, and have them come back quite often. Remember, content and other stuff may be crucial but only if your visitors are able to find them.

Last Updated ( Friday, 26 November 2010 10:01 )

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