Good Website Navigation is What Keeps Visitors Coming Back
An effective website is one that is easily understood by the average web user.
A general guideline would be to make sure that all navigation elements are linked clearly using standard link conventions such as menus, buttons, changing color on rolling over the cursor, or underlining the text. Avoid using ambiguous or clever names for links. Keep page design attractive and simple – don’t hide links in images, make image elements into links, or require multiple clicks to finally reach an inner page of the website.
Important Navigation Elements for every website:
- Internal Page Links – From the homepage, each page on the site should be reachable within two or three clicks. Vital pages should be only one click away. The kind of site will determine the links that are prominently displayed. Make sure the page tabs have titles that are easily understood – users don’t want to search every page for relevant content. Organize related pages using drop-down menus. The internal logic of the website should be consistent so that the average user understands how the information has been organized.
- Login Boxes – These should be displayed prominently, preferably on the Home Page. A visitor who has registered with you earlier does not want to navigate through your site again, and will not bother unless they can reach you with one click. Common locations are top right, top left or in the page header.
- Shopping Carts – If you sell your products using shopping carts, you need to display the ‘View Cart’ button prominently on each page. The popular location is top right, as part of or just below the header.
- Order Buttons – Individual order buttons should be large enough and visible. To receive more orders, make it easier to reach your order page.
- External Links – Such links are often used in the text areas of a site. They could be references to extra information on other sites or to recommended products. Although judiciously used links will increase your Search Engine rankings, take care not to overdo it. Nobody likes to read text heavy with hyperlinks – your site is not Wikipedia.
- Advertisements – Adverts are normally either text or a graphic with a related hyperlink. Adverts can be positioned anywhere on a page. However, ads which are visible on a page without having to scroll are obviously more effective.
- Downloadable Items – If your site has downloadable items such as pdf files, video or audio, make sure you tell the user the size of the file and whether any application is required to use the file. Where possible, provide a link which can be used to download the application.
- Site Map – This is a great way of laying out your entire website for your visitor, as well as for search engines. A site map lists every page on your website with a link to that page.