Web Design and Navigation Systems
Navigation systems are link collections such as dropdown menus, toolbars, and sidebars. The point of these systems is to help visitors find the page they want as quickly and efficiently as possible. The key to doing this well is to implement a standard layout and composition. This ensures that everything is where the visitor expects to find it, and is only effective given collective relevance, of links in a related group (eg. a sidebar), to the page displayed. Also crucial is that navigation backbones such as dropdown menus, will function correctly under almost all conditions.
Toolbars can be used for links relevant to the page but are best deployed with links to pages about the site and its organisation. Such pages include:
- Home - home page where there should be at least one link to the site map high in the page HTML.
- About us - brief description of you or your organisation and identity.
- Contact us - contact page but don't leave your email address un-cloaked.
- Site map - best way into the rest of the site for search engine spiders.
- Privacy statement - describing how you handle visitor data.
- Security statement - describing security measures applied for visitor benefit.
- Standards statement and references - listing standards complied with.
- Site Licence - describing the terms by which the visitor is bound including copyright, email use, etc.
In the left hand column, visitors generally expect to find a collection of relevant links. Not hundreds of links they can get lost in - just around a dozen of the most relevant links via a clear device such as a collection of buttons. This collection changes with movement within the information hierarchy, and can be used to define a complete navigational cascade of one parent, a group of up to a dozen sibling pages, and another group of up to a dozen child pages. This ensures a full range of movement throughout the navigational structure of the site.
In the right hand column one expects to see applicable eCommerce and purchasing buttons near the top, with advertising panels in the middle and applicable shareware downloads towards the bottom. Buttons and advertisements can vary from standard and layout, and this chaos defines the character of the Adbar before the visitor looks in depth. This allows the commercial material to remain unnoticed until a decision has been made, when the eyes reflexively move right and upwards - to settle on the purchasing buttons and in the vicinity of advertising links.
Badges, Awards, and Compliance Buttons
These are not the most important features of your site as they neither identify your site, nor refine its message. However, badges are a good way to conclude your message as they can make the impression of recognition and diligence, and this is always a good last impression. This is why badges, awards, and compliance buttons best occupy the limited space at the bottom of the page, and in view of colour diversity, it is necessary to have the badges in a standard size such as 88x31 pixels to minimise the chaos and make them easier to read.
In nearly all programs, dropdown menus occupy a narrow band at the very top of the application window. This is why visitors expect to find dropdown menus in a narrow bar at the very top of the page. Don't make the mistake some large software corporations make by implementing an information hierarchy more than three levels deep. This becomes confusing for visitors who will be lost in the information maze. If your information hierarchy occupies more than three levels or dimensions, register domains applicable to sub-hierarchies that also carry something of your mark. This site is part of a vast information hierarchy hosted by RealmEleven and spanning more than 70 top level and country level domains across seven top level realms. Visitors specific to a region anywhere in the RealmEleven information hierarchy will find themselves directed to a relevant domain with a simple dropdown menu system that displays every page on the domain.