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.
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.
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.
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.