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Navigation is extremely important for your website. It's part of your design, look, and feel. The right navigational tools will create a user-friendly website, while a poorly mapped out website can crush your success.
The following are some points to consider: Presentation - Functionality - Familiarity -User-Friendliness
Place main website links at the top and bottom of every page, or on the side and bottom, depending on your page layout.
The reason for this is so that visitors can instantly discover your key features.
Some search engines cannot navigate through your entire site through pictures, icons, or graphics. They need text links in order to spider through your website.
Limit your navigational links to three clicks. So, say you're a pet store. Your main links might look like this: HOME - DOGS - CATS - CRITTERS - SPECIALS
These would be your main links. Your top links can be linked pictures. The bottom links can be simple text links. The following is how your next menu would look if your visitor clicked the dog site.
DOGS TOYS - FOOD - GROOMING
Your main links would still be available; however, your sub-menu for the different dog links would now be visible. Let's take it one link further.
TOYS BALLS - CHEWS - SQUEAKY - STUFFED
In three clicks your customer has reached his desired goal. Dogs/Toys/Squeaky. This should be your goal as well.
Nothing is more frustrating than having to click deeper and deeper into a website to find what you need. If you're looking for a dog squeaky toy, you shouldn't have to go through more than a few clicks to get there.
Here's how your clicks might go:
Dog Toys - Small Squeaky Toys ... you're there.
Unless the shop has too many of that type of squeaky toy and you have to click for more squeaky toys to view, you should get to the squeaky toy section or directory within a few clicks.
A large website should have a site map. (Our site map should be up and running this week) A site map is a page that will direct your customers to any place they want to go.
Don't place long descriptions on the site map. It's comparable to a street map. Just the facts...err... links. Place a link to the site map on each page.
This will allow your customers faster access. They will not need to go back to your home page, especially if the site map is created by adding a simple pop up window code.
Keep the main page no longer than two page lengths. If it's at all possible your main page should be visible with little if any scrolling. It's pretty hard to do, because most of us want our customers to see everything all at once.
However, if you keep your main page focus on quick links, and you don't crowd it with advertisements and other non-essentials, you should be all right. Limit it to no longer than a two-page viewing. A little scrolling is all right.
Main page should be fast loading. Nothing will kill your visits faster than a slow loading web page. Keep your main page simple. No more than a few pictures.
Remember you don't need to dazzle your customers with animations and colorful banners and pictures. Believe me... the people who know this fact are making millions...
YES, MILLIONS! Their web sites are simple and FAST loading.
* Place "Back to Top" links on long scrolling pages, FAQ, or other subject type references.
* Place a "Back to Top" link at the bottom of long scrolling web pages to keep your customers happy. This makes navigation so much nicer and it's a crowd pleaser.
* Place targeted links. FAQ targeted links is a good example. Use targeted links for anything in this type of setting.
A targeted link will take your customer straight to the subheading of interest. Use targeted links especially where you have many subheadings or frequently asked questions.
Remember, an easily navigated website will impress your visitors. A poorly designed web site will create a frustrated visitor who will not want to come back.