Making a Content Web Site

Site Map

Navigation
Why is it important

Click to Navigation - How do you do it?

Opening Statement Text Image Tables Hyperlinks Navigation Artistic Concerns Content Conclusion

Navigation is more than "Go here" and "Go there" or rather "Click here" and "Click there". Navigation is a vital part of your design. For instance, in this web site, you have options in terms of navigation. You can stay on this "side" and find out about design then "travel" to the other side and learn the code and steps to doing those things. OR You can go back and forth from design to the step-by-step instructions - play as you go. Why would I consider this? Well, it ultimately comes down to what my audience might want.

Some of you might like to read about design to get prepared for making the web page. You want to look at it holistically. Others want to test each idea; look at it in segments in some kind of order. And then there's a third audience - those that know some stuff, but want to wander through the web site at random, discovering haphazardly different things. Since I have determined (or anticipated or just plain guessed) what my audience's needs are before attempting to create this web site, I know I need to offer three ways to "navigate" this site to please my audience. This is not always the case. Sometimes the subject dictates that the audience should not jump around and be left to their own devices.

There are many web sites which are linear - in other words, you can only navigate them by going in a steady progression. You may not want your audience to choose their own path. For example, if I created a web site about the life cycle of a frog, I may not want the viewer to skip from egg to full grown frog. I may want to force the viewer to follow all the steps from egg, to tadpole to frog so that my viewer is exposed in the right order to each of the life cycle steps. In another example, what if I had a web site about the advent of writing. I may not want my audience to skip from stone tablets to voice recognition software. I may need them to follow through stone tablets, papyrus, Gutenberg, xerox machines, OCR scanning, then ultimately Dragon software. There's a purpose to how you want your audience to navigate your web site. This web site, for example, allows the viewer to walk through in a purposeful manner. In one Navigation scheme, I have you start with text, move through, images, then on to hyperlinks, etc. I also added a site map, so that viewers who want to be in change of their journey, can choose that route. This site map also allows those who want to wander randomly to do so.

On a smaller scale, the web designer needs to consider the type and kinds of menus to use. This web site uses two kinds: navigation icons and textual cues. In other words, you always have the same overall navigation bar at the top of each web page; I repeated (albeit backwards) this table scheme at the bottom of each web page so you can choose where you want to go next. I could have had side navigation like this:

Navigation
How do you do it?
Opening Statement
Text
Image
Tables
Hyperlinks
Artistic Concerns
Content
Conclusion
Site Map

I chose to use text menus with a sprinkle of graphics, but I could have gone iconigraphic using graphic images to represent the text in the menu. That choice is to the right. Note that using images exclusively can create problems in understanding what those images represent. Can you figure out without looking to the left, what each icon represents in the image-laden menu on the right easily? Even I can't remember what each graphic is supposed to represent, and I found them all. The choice of what to use (text or image) is dependent on who you think your audience is going to be, what they might prefer, and to a lesser extent how much space and what theme you will use throughout the web site or on the page.

So, navigation is not just about "click here" - it's about how you want your audience to move around your topic and also if that navigation can help your audience understand the topic in a better way.

Navigation
How do you do it?

And along with Navigation, we need to remember to name our pages appropriately for our audience so that when they bookmark our pages in their browser, they will have the right title in their list of bookmarks to use our page again.

For example, if you are viewing this page in Internet Explorer, you will see a blue title bar at the top of your browser. In it, you will see that this page is called : Navigation: Why is it important. This will appear as the default name of the bookmark, if you add it to your favorites. It is an important part of web page design. It lets your audience know where they are and what the page contains. It can also tell the audience that the page they are seeing is a subordinate page to a larger web design. For example, if the title is "Dreamweaver: FAQ", then we can guess as an intelligent audience that the whole web site is about Dreamweaver, but the page we see in the browser would be the section on Frequently Asked Questions. We know then that we should be able to navigate around the whole web site to find even more interesting information. Instructions on how to change the page name are here.

Next, Artistic Concerns.

Opening Statement Text Image Tables Hyperlinks Navigation Artistic Concerns Content Conclusion

Making a Content Web Site

Site Map

Navigation
Why is it important

Click to Navigation - How do you do it?