Recently Jim and I have been doing a lot of traveling; mostly for his other business ColorMetrix. (In fact, I’m writing this post from the passenger seat of a car.) Since early May, we’ve been on an every other week travel schedule and all of them have been driving trips.
Unlike air travel, road trips usually require more planning and organization. We have to decide when we want to arrive at our destination and then figure out which route to take, guesstimate travel time for that route and eventually propose a departure time.
Basically, our trips depend greatly on navigation.
The same applies on the Internet roadways
As we’ve been working with different SheHe Media clients to build out new websites or improve upon existing ones, we have been stressing the importance of navigation.
Yesterday, Jim talked about using call to action items. While I think these are essential aspects of your site, I believe the actual navigation bar or bars on a site’s home page is even more important. It’s great to have a call to action link on a product page, but it doesn’t help you very much if a viewer can’t find that page.
Mapping out a site
In my former career, I spent a lot of time drawing maps for various newspapers. Just like the GPS app we use for our road trips, maps in general help people visualize areas.
When I am trying to figure out the appropriate navigation for a site, I draw out a site map in my notebook to help me find the way.
One of the bigger questions I have to answer is whether a site needs one or two navigation bars. Many times one bar is appropriate if the site content isn’t too deep and varied. If you can get away with simple categories such as About Us, Products, Services, Blog and Contact Us, you probably only need one bar. If that can’t be done easily, consider a site with two navigation bars. If you look at this site’s header area, it includes two bars: one for our pages and one for the topics covered on this blog.
Keep it simple
Even if you deem that your blog needs two navigation bars, remember that navigating your site should always be as simple as possible.
Here are some tips I suggest:
- Take the time to draw out your site map. You’ll gain a better understanding of what kind of navigation you need.
- Keep your category titles short and concise.
- Don’t repeat your navigation topics between different bars.
- Remember that if a viewer visits your site and can’t figure out where to go, they won’t be back. Make sure your navigation is not confusing.