by Webnme on Sep 5th 2011
Site navigation needs to be simple to be quickly and easily understood by your visitors. The more complicated your navigation scheme is the more likely you are to lose your visitors.
You can have nested links that go to dozens of pages, but the top level navigation really should be limited to as few topics as possible. This will allow you to have a horizontal navigation bar and not clutter the content area with navigation which eats away at screen space and reduces what people can see.
People will have trouble learning how to get around on your site, if there are too many choices. The above the fold area of the site should be carefully crafted to have a few navigation choices, ads, search and maybe your Twitter feed.
Finally, navigation must be uniform on every page of your site. If you change how key links appear and move navigation links from page to page, this forces the visitor to have to re-learn the site on each page and drives them away. If it gets to be hard going, your visitors will find a site that is easier to use.
Site Navigation – Bread Crumbs
People do get lost on a site or enter it from a subsidiary page instead of the home page. If the site has bread crumbs on each page showing where you are in the navigation scheme, it helps people go up the page hierarchy and get where they want to go.
Tags and Categories – Powerful Tools
If you use a blogging application like WordPress, you will find that you have two new tools to help people find their way around your site – categories and tags. A visitor can click on a category or tag to see anything on your site that is in the same category or that has the same tag making it easier to find related content quickly.
Categories are like topics in a topic index. You pick maybe 10 or so of these and no more – they are the major sub-divisions of your site.
Tags (no more than three per post) can be used to help people find a particular item, so a story that is related to iPhone applications, would include an “iPhone”, “Application”, and maybe an “Apple” tag. Generally you will want to use easily recognized words that are keywords in an article as tags.
You can also display a tag cloud that show your most frequently used tags to visitors to help them find relevant content. In most tag clouds the most frequently used tags appear in larger or more prominent typeface.
Author and Category Branding
Sometimes it helps the reader to have an icon to indicate who the author is and to what category a blog posting belongs. I have done this with some automated coding on http://blog.webnme2.com and can do this for customers. The code associates an author icon and category icon based on what you pick in the blog article editor and puts it there for you so that you don’t have to know any fancy code or even remember to do this. It just happens. Here’s an example:
The first icon identifies the author and the second identifies the category, which in this case is Kindle related content.