Reading through my blog there are a few themes that I mention frequently. One of those is usability. This post addresses one particularly important Web usability issue–site navigation. Having great informative content is wasted if users can’t find it! Let’s look at the ways to navigate a website.
(There are other site navigation systems, for example, pull-down redirection menus, and multi-level cascading menus. But those aren’t as strong usability tools.)
Ways we navigate a website
Most sites should have the following navigation systems:
Hyperlinks: The Internet is an ever-expanding storage of information connected by an ever-growing number of hypertext links (also called hyperlinks, or links). A hyperlink is usually a line of text or image that can be selected. Traditionally, links were represented in blue underlined text. Changes in the Web now allow for a variety of options. Remember that however they appear within your site, they should stand out from the rest of the text.
Site Search: A site search engine is a popular function on a site. Usually a simple box at the top of every page;
Advanced Site Search: Advanced search differs from a basic search since it allows users to refine a search. If your site has hundreds of products, or pages of content, and is broken down into departments or categories this is especially useful.
Site Map: A site map is a visual model of a site’s content. Allowing the users to view the site in its entirety. Site maps are organized in a hierarchy. Main categories broken down into increasingly specific subject areas. Crawled by search engines site maps are a factor in ranking.
The ways to navigate a website should be clear and easy to find. Links are calls to action and site searches help your customer find what they are looking for. All are factors in usability. Use them to create the best experience for your visitors.