Navigation on a website is one of its most important part because it directs the users to other parts of the website and helps a user guide to other parts of the content which is relevant to him. The importance of navigation cannot be understated even on a single page website or blog because it essentially helps a user scan and find important information on the page.
There are many types of navigational elements which can be used on a website and each one of them has its own merits and optimal usage practices. In this post we look at few important navigational elements that are commonly found on internet and how to use them optimally.
Table of Contents
- The main consideration in designing a navigation element:
- Different types of navigations:
Grouping different menu items together and placing them at strategic location on website is one of the main condition that a website owner or designer should look in the first place. Primary menus, secondary menus, regular links, contextual links all such menu items should be grouped together so that the user doesn’t get confused on what menu items are placed in a particular navigation section of the website. Keeping this in mind let’s now move on to different types of navigations.
This is one of the most important part of any website and contains the main menu links which direct to the important sections of the website. The important thing is to decide where to place this navigation. Depending on the layout option that your website will have the main navigation can be on the left side if the website has a three column layout or if the website has a two column layout the general trend is to have the main menu on a bar above the main content. Some people even like to place the primary navigation on a bar above the logo to utilize the space optimally. Depending on the choice of the user and layout adopted placing the primary navigation gives the best result when placed in the left sidebar in case of a three column layout and on the top of content in case of a two column layout.
The purpose of the secondary and tertiary navigation is to present users with menu items related to the different sections which were located in the primary navigation. This can be done via a drop down menu or presenting contextual menu on left or right sidebar in a three column or two column layouts respectively. The general trend is to present a drop-down on the primary navigation, which opens on click or on hover of the mouse. In a three column layout if the primary navigation is placed in the left sidebar the navigation can fly in towards the web page or it can drop down in case of a website with primary navigation is placed in a bar above the content. The important thing to consider here is to tell the user clearly with an arrow head, if a primary navigation element has a secondary or even a tertiary navigation to clear out confusion.
If a website has a lot of content to present to its user it can use a tabbed navigation in which each tab contains a separate set of links like the most read, most commented, latest links and offers if any. The content of the tabbed navigation can be decided by the user but important thing is to highlight the navigation tab in use and present the tab containing most important information to the user on when he first visits the website.
This is getting increasingly important because of the element of ease it provides to user to navigate the website and being shown in search results as well. Almost 99 percent of the website place the breadcrumb navigation on top of the content below the main navigation in case of a two column layout and between the header and content sections in case of a three column layout.
This is a set of links that is related to the content presented on the page or presents users with other content on the website that the owner wants user to find out. This can be placed in between the content, below the content, in the right sidebar or in the left sidebar in case of a three column layout. WordPress also provides a sliding navigation with related content whenever a user scrolls down to the bottom of the page this helps the website or blog owner to present another option that it thinks is important for the user and slides it from right hand bottom corner.
Links to twitter, facebook and google plus etc can be placed below the content title, end of the content or in left or right sidebar, which ever place suits the user to get maximum shares for his content on the website.
A website is worthless without proper navigation and elements like hover information, navigation icons and proper location that help user find out other information on the website. The more importance a website owner gives in designing and placement of his website navigation the better rewards he will reap from his online efforts.