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Five rules of effective website navigation

30 November 2012

The key element to direct success of a website is navigation. Website navigation is a certain gateway to different sections of the content, and there are certain tips by following which you can design it in the most effective way.

1) Navigation should be placed on a prominent area. Naturally, web users are very impatient and they won’t hang out on a website for ages to find the needed piece of information. Navigation has to be obvious and clear. Since it shouldn’t take a lot of space on the site, it’s got to attract attention and stand out from the rest of the elements so that they aren’t lost amongst a sea of the content. The most common place where a visitor expects to see a navigation bar is the top side of the website. Besides, it’s very convenient allocation as users don’t have to scroll down the page to be able to navigate further in your website.

2) Keep it consistent. If you’ve allocated your navigation bar across the top side of the site, make sure it appears in the same place through the entire website. It should also be in the same colors, type and style. By keeping your website consistent you will enable your users to get used to your site and feel comfortable there.

3) The names of sections should be obvious. They have to clearly say what lies behind them. The words such as “tools” and “resources” should be avoided wherever it’s possible, because as a rule they only lead to users clicking multiple unnecessary buttons.The words “news” and “podcasts” would look more understandable and comprehensive on the site.

4) Less is more. Having plenty of buttons that lead to many sections of the content leave a user with too many choices. A lot of options can simply distract your visitor from the important content areas of your site. Be very careful with navigation bars. If you have three separate navigation bars on the site, it’s already quite a lot.

5) Make sure you remind your visitor where he is. It’s a really good idea to highlight the section where a visitor has come in. Be consistent and use the same colours and style to do that. If your website has got more than one page for each content section, make sure that you’ve got a button which users could click to get back to the homepage.

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