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Setting Up Your Website Navigation Structure

written by: Robin L.•edited by: Michele McDonough•updated: 11/27/2009

Understanding how to make your website navigation structure user friendly will help you create a loyal web site audience. Keep reading to find out more.

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    A website navigation structure can be broken into three parts: home page, primary sections, and secondary sections. By learning the importance of these separate sections you can make your web site easier for users to navigate. Keep website navigation the same on all pages, and make sure all pages link to each other, to make it easy.

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    Home Page

    The home page of your web site needs to load quickly and tell your visitors its purpose as quickly as possible so they can determine if they are where they need to be. If the visitor has been to your site before you want him or her to be able to quickly be able to get to the section of the web site they want but at the same time you want any new information to be easily identifiable. Finally, you want them to be able to easily discern where the navigational controls are so they will be able to navigate this part of your web site as well as any other pages they visit.

    Your homepage will link to the primary sections of your web site.

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    Primary Sections

    The primary sections of your web site are essentially the site index. This allows your visitors to quickly find the topic they are most interested in. For example, if you have a web site dedicated to books your primary sections would break the books into genres such as fiction, science fiction, and religion.

    These primary sections will lead to pages that discuss the topic and break it down further into secondary sections.

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    Secondary Sections

    Secondary sections allow you to focus attention on certain aspects of a broader topic. Again, using the book site as an example, you would use secondary sections to list authors of the specific genre highlighted on the primary section page. For example, if the secondary section was fiction one of the secondary section tabs could be John Grisham. That secondary section would allow you to focus only on his books and information about him.

    If you tried to link all of the information about different authors from the homepage you would overwhelm your viewer and make it impossible for him or her to find the exact book he or she desired.

    By making your web site easy to navigate you help guarantee that the people viewing your web site will stay long enough to see all that you have to offer. Simplifying their experience is the best way to encourage them to explore and to return.