Navigation Styles for Effective Website Design
Navigation is the key to a superior user experience on your website, thereby, making it a key factor to be considered by the web designer. Through an intuitive website navigation you can guide the visitors through the site by highlighting important links, categories etc. When working on the website design, a designer must ensure that special attention is given to the navigation to ensure that the visitors are not confused or lost on your site.
Types & Styles of Navigation Design
There are different styles and types of navigation that can be integrated with a web design. The effectiveness of a chosen navigation style depends entirely on the kind of audience you are addressing to. Some of the commonly used navigation styles are discussed below –Top Horizontal Bar Navigation
This is the most widely used website navigation style for the most important links on the site. It is most commonly located directly below or above the header of all web pages in the website. This type of navigation style is suitable for websites that need to display around 5-10 navigation items in the mail navigation menu. It can be combined with a sub-navigation bar to hold more links.
Vertical Bar/Sidebar Navigation
In this type of navigation style, many navigation items can be arranged in a single column placed on left or right side of the web pages. However, a recent usability study reveals that vertical navigation on the left performs better than on the right.
This is a form of secondary navigation that allows users to trace the steps taken by them on the site so that they can find their way back to the Home page. Breadcrumbs can effectively support the primary navigation system of the website design. Sites that have multiple levels of web page hierarchy and have clearly defined sections of the content can use breadcrumb navigation to their advantage.
Drop-down/Fly-out Menu Navigation
Drop-down navigation is used with horizontal navigation bars, while fly-out navigation can be used with vertical/sidebar navigation menus. This type of navigation styles make the site looks uncluttered and can effectively compliment the primary navigation system. You can use them in case of multi-level information architecture.
Having the navigation menu in the footer as well can support the users who are browsing through the site and exploring its different aspects. It is used as a secondary navigation and contains links that cannot be accommodated in the main menu or to enlist all the links of the site.
Website designers often use tag navigation for new sites and blogs. In this form of navigation, different navigation items are organised into a tag cloud that may be arranged alphabetically or in order of popularity. Tag clouds can be very useful as secondary navigation and can assist the user in exploring the site and finding way to different topics.
Websites that have myriad of information to offer can make use of search navigation so that users can reach to the main information quickly. Examples of websites that use this navigation style include Wikipedia, YouTube, Amazon.com etc. Search navigation is also commonly used on blogs and new sites.
Faceted or guided navigation is part of web design for ecommerce sites. This allows users to streamline their search for a particular product. The guided navigation can be based on gender, price, size, colour, brand, etc. Big ecommerce sites can integrate guided navigation into their website design to assist their customers in a much better manner.