Web surfers are impatient. If a website is hard to figure out because the links aren’t obvious, there is no doubt they will click away and never return to your website.

Website navigation is one of the most crucial elements in website design and determines the effectiveness of a website. This article is going to discuss the basic principles of designing a website navigation for a simple website design.

To be an effective website navigation first, it must make sense to the average person. While there is always room form some creativity, well designed website tend to have similar navigations.

As a web designer you must always keep the basic purpose in mind. Most website exist either to inform the visitor of a service they provide, or a product they have for sale. Therefore there are some basic guidelines you must follow.

Make sure all navigational elements are links and using standard designs for the links, such as buttons or menus. Also underline the text on mouse over.

Remember the “Three Click Rule” that most professional website designers use. Studies have proven that most users will not click more than 3 links to get to the information they want. So every page on your website must be reachable within three clicks.

Top Menus – a top of the page menu bar is usually located below the page header graphic, which often contains the logo. These menu items are normally single links or drop down menus. Each item can either be represented as a graphic or as text. In either case a hyperlink is associated to the item so they visitor can click on it to get the required page.

Left Side Navigation – a left side navigation is normally implemented as a column on the left top portion of the website design. Just like the top menu, each item can be a single link or a dropdown menu.

Right Side Navigation – right side navigations are not used that often, but are similar to the left side navigations, although most web designers will use these for advertisements.

Bottom Menus – bottom menus can either be a footer or a menu bar, Keywords can be inserted into the bottom footer to help with search engine optimization

Internal Page Links – every page on the website should be within two or three clicks from the home page and important pages should be one click away.

External Links – external links can be used anywhere but are most frequently used inside the text areas on a website. They tend to be references to more information located on another website.

Overall a good navigation system and increase the number of pages viewed by each user. This in turn can increase signups, customers, and sales.

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