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The Importance of Your Site’s Navigation Usability | Website Office
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The Importance of Your Site’s Navigation Usability

August 19, 2008

You have probably heard, repeatedly, the importance of your site’s content. While I still agree with this, aligning myself with those who would say that content is king, or queen for that matter, your content is worth very little if it can’t be found. Not only does a well-designed navigation help your customers and improve their experience on your site, it also makes your site more easily crawled by the search engine bots. Isn’t it ironic that making your site more user friendly usually makes it easier for the bots as well?

Logical design is one of the most important things to consider for your customers. You want to make your site so easy to navigate that all they have to do is scan the page to find what they are looking for. This may sound like a daunting task, but it really is quite simple. One of the biggest things you can do is to arrange your links in a logical progression. Try arranging your links along the following lines: topic, task, audience, and hybrid.

Arranging your site by topic allows users to find the things that they are searching for. When someone wants to purchase a product, having your site set up so that they can search for the particular thing will help them immensely. It will also help the crawlers search each page of your site and ensure that they don’t miss some of your deeper pages.

A task-oriented scheme is most useful for a site that has a service to offer. Offering the various services, such as booking something, finding another service, or buying something, will help your customers find the services they are looking to find. While this may seem similar to the topic search, it generally aligns things by commonality and the way they are used rather than their similarity.

If your site has two or more distinct sets of users, arranging your site differently for these two users is important. The easier you make it for each group to find the things most related to them, the more useful they find your site. Making these things easy to find also makes them easier to link as well as be found by the crawlers. The key here is to provide the most relevant results to each group.

A hybrid scheme makes use of more than one of the previous mentioned ones. Make sure that you do not over use any of these setups or you risk losing the ease of use and making your site more complicated than it was before you started.

The key is not necessarily simplicity from your end, though this can be a good thing, but simplicity for your users. Make your site for them, and your results will be much better than if you had thrown everything you could into it.

Written By: James Blackburn, Website Office Staff Writer

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