Navigation Is The Website, Not A Feature

May 10, 2010

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Posted In : Web Design, Web Design

In web design the most important subject that is always discussed is what type of pages are you going to have on the site and how many. This is the preliminary question to start to determine how the website will be laid out, meaning the navigation of the website. Today I am going to talk about the website navigation in more depth.
website navigation screenshots

What Is Navigation

Website navigation is crucial to a website’s success and can also be the downfall of a website’s success. According to Wikipedia “Navigation is the process of reading, and controlling the movement of a craft or vehicle from one place to another. It is also the term of art used for the specialized knowledge used by navigators to perform navigation tasks. The word navigate is derived from the Latin “navigate”, which is the command “sail”. More literally however, the word “Navi” in Sanskrit means ‘boat’ and “Gathi” means ‘direction’. All navigational techniques involve locating the navigator’s position compared to known locations or patterns. Basically to find a direction is what I am going to talk about as that is why people navigate. Internet users who use the web are constantly “Navigating” trying to find there way around things and trying to search for things. This could be a huge reason why Google is so popular as they help all of us in the world find things.

Navigation Is The Website

We like to navigate and navigating on a website is no different. Website navigation must be clear and concise. They must be readable and easy to understand. Navigations on a website have to be very good because they are they only thing that will give users a sense of direction. In the offline world it is much easier to have some sense of where you are versus where you would like to go as you can physically go through a supermarket or travel a road. In the online world there is more of a virtual reality and users cannot simply say, “ok I have walked every aisle of the store and I still cannot find it”. Some websites can be daunting to navigate as there could easily be 100 more pages of a site that a user may have not even looked at even though they may think they have. This is why effective site maps can be very helpful as they act as the “You Are Here” maps that you may see at a large shopping mall.
we are here map

Signs

There are many things around us that we use to find things and the number one thing is signs. We use signs everyday when we drive because that is what we have been taught to do if we want to find things. Also as humans we have developed patters for signs and methods to the madness in developing signs so everyone driving can understand. For example a stop sign will always look like:
stop sign

We are use to seeing stop signs the same everywhere and so instantly when we see them we know what it is. However when it comes to website navigation some people like to mess things up by putting them in weird places or even worse making them disappear from one page to another.

Clear Concise Navigation

When a person visits a website the brain is out for only 1 thing and that is to find what it is searching for, and if it is not actively searching and is just browsing it is still trying find something to grab a hold of. All of us do some type of navigating on a daily basis from driving to shopping to channel surfing and more. At your local supermarket you may see this:
supermarket sign

At Innovation Simple we have made the website navigation with clear bold text along with image icons to additionally help the user:
innovationsimple.com navigation menu

If your website’s navigation is not clear so that they are easy to navigate and move around, then your website is more of a chore to be on then a good experience. Navigation Is The Website, Not A Feature

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