The fundamental principle of navigation design is that you should design for the reader – the person who uses the website. To be effective, website navigation should first be easily understood by the average web user. When designing web navigation elements, you need to always remember the main purpose of the site and the target audience.
Different readers have different preferences on how they like to navigate around a website. Some readers like to navigate geographically. Others navigate by subject matter. And some want to read the most recent documents similar to those they have just read. Therefore, to accommodate a variety of readers and their navigation requirements, a range of navigation options should be offered. So by using multiple classifications you can allow the reader to navigate the content in any manner they wish.
Home page navigation should provide context for the reader. It is not simply about functional navigation such as hypertext and search. The home page should take content highlights from the content archive, presenting them as features. For navigation to provide the best possible context, you need to ensure that all content is properly classified; allow for a variety of product/selection homepages that publish the most relevant and positive content for that particular product or section; use related navigation at the end of a document that gives links to similar documents or websites.
From the homepage, each page on the site should be reachable within two or three clicks. Vital pages should be only one click away. Navigation should let readers know where they are going. There are a number of ways to achieve greater clarity. Some examples: Consider drop-down navigation, showing lower levels of the classification. This allows the reader to navigate further into the website if they wish. Change the color of a link when the mouse rolls over it. This is helpful when there are many links placed close together. Because the link changes color, the reader knows exactly which link they are about to select. If the user is asked to participate in a process, such as purchasing a product online, show a progress chart to assist in navigation. This shows the user how many stages there are in the process, and what stage they are at.
To help users navigate your site – you should also consider placing a ‘Search’ box on every site page. It should be placed on the far right of the masthead.
Good website navigation can increase the viewing of your web pages. This will in turn lead to increased signups, sales, customers or members.