Greater usability is the goal of website navigation. Making the site clear and easy for visitors to navigate should be an important goal of every web designer. For large sites with many pages of information, or businesses with a variety of products, simple and straightforward navigation “has to be properly researched and designed.” Remember that not all the individuals who come to your site will be computer literate or savvy. Making information clear and easy to get to is vital to ensuring you reach the maximum number of potential customers.
According to web design experts, “the steps required from searching a catalog of items, selecting from the catalog, adding them to a shopping cart, proceeding to check out, to entering the payment particulars is a specific sequence that should be facilitated by the navigation system.” There are two basic elements of navigation: “location indicators and navigation controls.” Location indicators are like the maps in the mall that have the big star telling you “you are here”. The help visitors understand where on the website they are in relation to other pages. For example, the indicator sequence “Home » Shrubs & Hedges » Hibiscus Plants » Helene Rose of Sharon – 4″ Pot” gives a customer on Spring Hill Nursery’s website a “breadcrumb trail” to return to any of the categories they were visiting previously or return to the home page. Location indicators are especially useful if a customer enters your site from a page other than the home page. This is also a great on page optimization tactic that the search engines will love and your users will find useful.
The other element is navigation controls. These are the main categories and links that allow your visitors to move around your site. Whether menus, text links, images, or icons, they should be located in the same spot on each page so people can easily find them. Consider standard navigation controls such as the almost universal cart or shopping bag symbol or text in the upper right corner of a business’ website. This more traditional approach is familiar to people and allows them to make purchases from your site more quickly and easily. And that, after all is the goal of good navigation.