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Q: Where to put navigation
by Mike Slocombe

Q: How do I add a navigation bar to my site if I'm starting from scratch and not using a template? Where's the best place to put it? Most sites seem to have it either on the left-hand side or on the top - why is it put in these places?

A: The primary aim of a navigation bar is to guide visitors to the content they seek as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Anything that gets in the way of this aim, like cray-zee interfaces, obscurely named links, baffling icons or multimedia widget madness, is likely to confuse visitors.

Navigation should always be clear, concise and simple, and designed with the end user in mind.

It may be boring for designers of commercial sites, but the fact is most people easily understand left-hand and top navigation bars.

That doesn't mean personal/portfolio sites have to be created this way. Use whatever is appropriate to the content and aims of your site.

The simplest navigation bars need be no more complicated than a row of text links to the major sections of the site, but you can easily construct graphic menus using software such as Xara X, Adobe Photoshop/Elements, and Paint Shop Pro.

More info: Basics of Navigation.

December 2002

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