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Navigation PDF Print

According to Web usability expert, Jakob Nielsen, a good navigation system should answer three questions:
1. Where am I?
2. Where have I been?
3. Where can I go?

For your navigation system be able to correspond these requirements, try to apply the following basic elements:

• Keep it clear and consistent. The navigation system should be in the same place on every page and have the same format.

• Put the navigational links close to the top of the screen. Things that you want readers to use most often should always be easily accessible. There is a three click rule that says you should be able to find what you want on a site within three clicks from the home page. Essential navigational elements should never be treated like clutter.

• Always include text links. You can create some great looking menus using JavaScript or other scripting language, but never rely completely on a dynamic menu system. Some users may have problems using a mouse to navigate through the menu and others may be listening to the page using a screen reader.

• Use appropriate text inside links. Don't make your visitors guess where a link is going to take them. Use no links with the dreaded text "click here" or "more". It’s essential that readers have a specific idea where each link will lead.

• Include a home page link inside your main navigation system. Visitors may enter your site via an internal page, but hopefully they'll want to head for the home page next.

• Link from your articles to other relevant articles in this way you make sure that the search engines will find all your content and index it as well.

• Site logo links to home page. Include your logo somewhere at the top of every page - generally it is in the top, left-hand corner. Visitors expect this logo to be a link to your site's home page.

• Emphasize text links. The most effective way to ensure this is to double-format your links by changing both the color and the style of the hyperlinked text. Using blue color or underlined text seems to be the most reasonable as studies have shown that blue-underlined text is the most reliable indicator of links and provide the most click-throughs.

• Include a site search facility which helps visitors quickly find the information on your web site they want. Make the search box prominent.

• Add a site map. Large or complex sites should always have a Static HTML Sitemap in addition to text links. Every page should contain a text link to the site map. It will help users have a quick overview of the site.