Basic Structure & Navigation
It is of utmost importance, especially with sites that will contain more than 10 pages and may increase in size, to decide on a basic structure before beginning the process of building the site. Such a structure can be depicted diagrammatically as the roots or branches of a tree, with categories and sub-categories branching off, but always connected back to the higher categories from which they originate. This tree structure, if properly planned, allows for additions, deletions and new design elements to be more easily incorporated over time. In some cases, parts of the site can be closed off initially, if the content level is not yet adequate to fill them. However, having the structure on the drawing board and being prepared to utilize it makes it much easier for expansion when the time comes, and also paves the way for efficient and user-friendly navigation.

For sites of 50 pages or less, we always attempt to make complete navigation of the site available on every page (though in some cases this is not possible). For larger sites, navigation tools are tailored to point to sections and sub-sections, however, each page should at least be linked to all major categories on the site. You never want to rely on a visitor's use of the "back" and "forward" commands in his or her browser in order to get where they want to go.

For the most part, individual pages are based on custom-designed templates that repeat, but contain different text and/or graphics. For marketing and enhanced brand/name recognition purposes, we recommend that the company or organization logo and all navigation tools appear in the same spot on every page. Visitors who spend any time at all investigating a site appreciate the comfort factor of always knowing that they need only direct their eyes to a certain spot on any page in order to see the navigational options they have.

Don't Get Too Hyper
In the early days of the Internet and the World Wide Web, one of the most exciting and useful advantages of visiting a website, as opposed to reading a book or a catalog, was something called "text hyperlinks." This term has now been shortened to simply "links," and it basically refers to the fact that portions of text can be linked to other pages or different spots on the same page. Thus, on our home page, in the phrase "Take a moment to read over our simple, clear explanations of the process, and let us de-mystify it for you," the words "explanations of the process" can be linked to the About Web Design section, which explains the craft of Web design. Early on, it was not unusual for page text to be literally riddled with text links like this, but eventually designers realized that more was not always merrier. If you disrupt a block of text that you really want the visitor to read with too many chances to jump elsewhere, you are basically defeating the purpose of the text, which is to convey an idea or explain something. This is not to say that text links should not be used; they should. But they should be used judiciously, and always with one eye on the ultimate goals of the text itself.

Nowadays, most links are restricted to the navigation bars and graphics on a page. An exception to this rule might be when your home page text refers to many other pages on a site, suggesting that you visit them. For example, on the home page of The Knowledge Shop, you see one promotional blurb that covers many classes in a specific category (the colored text denotes linked phrases, however, these are not active on this page):

In this case, since the point of the text is to entice visitors to visit the pages that interest them, each category mentioned is linked to a specific page . If the visitor chooses to click on a one of these text links and leave the home page, then our mission is accomplished. Besides, when they get there (or to any other page on the site) they will be able to navigate to any page they like, including back to the home page.

 

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