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Designing Web Navigation by James Kalbach

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INTERACTING WITH NAVIGATION

The Web is not a static medium. People click, search, browse, and explore an endless chain of links. Beyond creating navigation that is easy to read and aesthetically pleasing, you also have to design for use. Three aspects of interacting with navigation that are particularly important are:

  • Underlining links

  • The size of the clickable navigation options

  • Rollover effects

Each is discussed in turn in the following sections.

UNDERLINING LINKS

To distinguish them from normal text, the default style that most browsers apply to hyperlinks is blue and underlined. Although there is nothing inherent in links to suggest this styling and it is somewhat arbitrary, web users have come to learn this convention very quickly. And the double coding of links—blue and underlined—means that people who are color blind or who have black-and-white monitors can still identify them.

But underlining text can add to the overall visual complexity of web pages. Stacks of underlined links are generally harder to read than the same links would be without the underlines, for instance. And because underlining indicates clickable navigation, that means using underlining in place of italics for a book title or for emphasis may cause confusion.

To avoid the potential negative effects of underlines, some designers remove them. In many cases this can improve readability and lead to a cleaner design overall. Take the Yahoo! home page, for example (Figure 10-9). Practically everything on this page is ...

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