Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Website Navigation - Lose Visitors Into Your Website, Not From Your Website

There are about 200 things you need to consider when designing a website, but one thing is most important above the rest. Website navigation. Simply put, website navigation is the most important aspect of effective web design. You can make the most flashy website in the world, but nothing beats a good old website that's easy to use and even easier to find what you're looking for.

Why is website navigation so important?

To answer that question, think about this.

As a web designer, what's your primary goal regarding your website? To get visitors to view your homepage, right? Then what? Surely your website goes deeper than a single homepage. How do you get your visitors to dig deeper? By providing easier means for them to navigate your website. It's as simple as that.

Here are some website navigation guidelines:

1. Links should be organized - You shouldn't just place your links anywhere you feel like it. Your links must be organized in order of importance. If necessary, segregate your pages under different categories and place their link on your homepage accordingly.

2. Order of things - After you have separated your links into different categories, it's time to think about where and how to place them on your homepage. The most likely place is along the top left of the page, since this is first place the eyes sees as soon as the page loads on the screen, based on our natural reading pattern of going from left to right.

Also avoid putting important links at the bottom of the page since visitors would have to scroll all the way down access them.

3. Internal and external links - Internal links are links that lead to a different page on your website. External links are links that lead to a page on a different website. Big difference.

For internal links, open the page in the same window. For external links open them in a separate window. External links take visitors to a different website, so as much as possible you don't want them leaving your own website in favor of that one, so open a new window instead and use that to display the external page.

These 3 navigation tips should make your website a cut above the rest compared to other amateur websites. The trick is to ease the visitor into digging a bit deeper into your website, slowly, little by little, and you can help with that by making navigation simpler and easier.

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