Navigational Options for Your Website: Choose Wisely

Posted onTuesday, 05 October 2010

Tagged withWebsite

By Merle

So you've decided to it's time to revamp your website's navigation, or maybe you're putting together a new site and are trying to decide the best navigational menu to use. Before you choose one type over the other, you'll want to consider the size of your site and your anticipated growth, as the menu structure you select may have to expand.

There are many types of navigation methods to choose from. You must carefully consider the layout of your site so you can choose the system that will work best. You want to make it easy for your visitors to find their way around and not frustrate them in the process. You need to keep it consistent across all pages of your site, with some standards like the placement of your logo (which is generally in the upper left hand corner of your website) linking back to your home page.

  1. Left Side Menu: Probably the most common menus you'll find, with text or button links running vertically down the left hand side of the page. This generally works best for small websites with a limited number of pages.
  2. Text Links at Bottom of Pages: Not a complete navigation system on its own, but always a good idea to complement your main navigation. If you use Flash, it's always a good idea to give the search engines an easy way to spider your site -- and text menus do just that. Your visitors will also appreciate not having to scroll back up to the top of the pages to make another selection. Keep it small.
  3. DHTML or JavaScript Menu: My favorite and the most expandable of menu types. Generally you'll have your main page topics running horizontally across the top of the page. When a user hovers over one of the main topics a drop down will appear with more menu options. The advantage to this type of menu is that it's easy to add new pages. You'll only need to create the page then add the text links to the script. Here are some software solutions:
  4. JavaScript Pull Down Menu: If you're cramped for space, then drop down menus are sweet as they are so compact and hardly take up any room. You can display a lot of links in a small area. They look like a small form boxes that display a main option, but when you click on them a drop down menu appears with all of the various pages of your website. Create your own, then copy and paste the code:
  5. Tabs Menu: Looks file folder tabs running across the top of your pages horizontally. A good example of this is at You'll find an easy way to create them at: The look of tabs can also be done using Cascading Style Sheets. Check out:
  6. Search Function: Many people overlook the advantages of adding a simple search box to their sites. Hurried visitors can simply type in what they're looking for and find it quickly without frustration. If your website is rather large you might want to consider adding this option, even if you have a great navigation system. You can download scripts and install them on your server or use a third party service.
  7. Site Map: If your site is rather large you also may want to include a "site map." Basically, it's a page on your website that lists all of the pages on your site, complete with text links. It gives users an overview of your website's contents. Make sure you include a link to your site map from your main navigation. Search engines love site maps as they make for excellent "spider food" helping your site to be indexed.
  8. CSS Menus: Cascading Style Sheets have made it possible to add an endless array of navigational options to your website. There's no bloat or lag in downtime, either. They allow you to control the appearance and format of your website separately from the webpage coding itself, which makes them easy to update and alter the look of your site whenever you like.

Do yourself a favor and take a long hard look at your website's navigation. Does it need an update? Now that you know all of your options there's no reason you can't create an exciting navigational system that users will just love. Don't underestimate the power of good navigation; if not done correctly visitors will be reaching for the exit button sooner then you think.

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