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Web Design And Navigation.

As people "browse" the Web, they "land" on a page and

"navigate" on a website. To find their way around they

need a "navigation" system. Navigation is as important

for web design as for a real life drive: when you drive

on a new road you want to see clear marked destinations,

exits and parking lots. You want to know where you are

and where you go. So do your visitors. Fail to provide

a clear road map and they will go back to where they

came from. Navigation should be clear and simple. Or

better: standard. That means: don't go around renaming

buttons. Use "home" for your index; not "back to base".

Although this "back to base" is rather clear, not all

the web users are in the mood for riddles, nor do they

have the time to start learning your rules, your style,

or your symbols.

There are three major types of navigation: global, local

and hierarchical.

Web designers use global navigation for medium-sized and

small websites to categorize the main points of interest.

Hierarchical navigation refers to large websites - such as

web directories, article directories, news portals and so

on. This approach is somehow confusing for web novices:

they cannot really find their way, especially when the

navigational structure is not clear (some web designers

omit important navigational elements such as "you are here",

"back", "next page" etc.)

One important note about local navigation: it works great

when you need cross traffic. You could use embedded links

to lead your visitors to information that is somewhere else

on your website or on a different website. But if you need

to link to another website use a target="_blank" approach

that will open the link in a new window. That's how the

visitors will not lose the path back to your website.

Many times web designers use a mix of the three navigational

styles, depending on the size of a website, its categories

and the importance of these categories. As a rule all sites

have a global navigation principle: the navigation bar.

Standard placements of the navigation bar are on the top or

along the left side of the screen. Some designers place the

nav bar on the right side - but users are not really familiar

with this approach. The worse practice is promoted by flash

designers who ignore web usability standards and make the

visitors "guess" where the links are.

No matter where you want to place the nav bar, remember:

keep it simple. Take a look at the websites of big

corporations. For example Philips placed the nav bar at

the top to define the main categories and uses a java

script to help users navigate to particular points of

interest. On secondary pages Philips is using a left

navigation bar. All in one, the web designers that

created the website for Philips used all three major

types of navigation, but the design respects one radical

principle: "Sense and simplicity". That's right: Philips'

slogan applies perfectly as a fundamental rule when it

comes to web design.

Article written by Scott Lindsay.

About the Author: Author Bio::


Scott Lindsay

flash web design

flash website design


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