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Web Site Cookbook by Doug Addison

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3.3. Making Room for All Your Navigation

Problem

You need to make sure that all of your site navigation will fit in your design.

Solution

The deepest pages on your site often will have to display the most navigation. When considering various navigation schemes, make a mockup or sketch of one of these pages to test possible arrangements. It's always easier to take away navigation from pages higher in your site structure (where it's not needed) than to try to wedge in important navigation on a page that wasn't designed to handle it.

Discussion

Navigation plays two related roles on a web site. By arranging links in a logical hierarchy, navigation gives visitors the mechanisms they need to browse from one page on your site to another. Navigation also provides feedback to users that helps them understand where they are in your site and how the page they're looking at relates to other pages on the site.

Navigation can appear in a variety of shapes and sizes to meet its two obligations to web surfers. The primary, or global, navigation outlines the main sections of your site and should appear on every page, including the home page. Have your proposed site map handy (see Recipe 2.1) before you start thinking about what your primary navigation items should be and how they will be presented.

Don't alter the position or wording of your primary navigation from page to page, lest you drive away visitors in confusion. You can, however, vary the text or background color on a primary navigation item to ...

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