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- or don't get lost in cyberspace

Have you ever visited a website and spent what seemed like forever clicking on hyperlinks trying to find what you know is there - SOMEWHERE.

Maybe you have seen the item before or maybe it is referred to on the front  (Home) page, maybe it is a crucial piece of info like an address or a price - something that you are sure that must be there. Moreover, you can't imagine why the website designer did not make it easy to find.

Remember how irritated you became as you searched and searched and what you started to feel about the organisation (and maybe the cruel webmaster who clearly designed it to drive all the site visitors crazy), OR maybe you just clicked away never to return.

It is so easy to mess up website navigation. You may think if you are just starting a website with just 4/5 pages it is very straightforward, hardly worth worrying about. But your website will grow, I guarantee it, and the enemy to good navigation is to let your site grow haphazardly page by page and bit by bit, burying pages and links where even Sherlock Holmes could not find them. So your site needs planning and the question is how you do plan it and what rules should guide you?

Follow the signs ...

Most people are lazy and will not bother to search your site clicking here and there - so anything that is important should go on the Home page where most people will arrive. I listed these out in the content article.

So if you think your navigation is a bit dodgy just putting all this important stuff on the front (Home) page is an easy quick way to ensure crucial info is easy to get to.

But you still need to work out the overall site navigation:

Ideally this should be done before you start but there is nothing to stop you going through your current site and assessing it afresh.

Every website needs a main menu (a row or column of hyperlinks that lead to the main sections) which is the same on every page. Where you put this menu or what it looks like I deal with under layout, style and design but there is one golden rule - it must be on every page (the only exceptions are things like newsletter pdfs that pop up on a separate page).

There will probably be extra links on some pages but the basic menu will ensure that wherever you are on the site you can get back to these main menu pages. This gives your site structure (and helps you look at it logically) and nowadays every web surfer knows this is how you get around and find the important bits.

The layout

On a piece of paper, lay out the main sections which will contain the main info* areas - like this:Diagram showing main menu structure.

* These tend to be the same on most club websites but of course you may have a specific requirement - for example if you have a 'Festival' every year or a 'For sale' section they deserve a special main menu.

Photograph of man placing finger on computer keyboard.The next rule is not to have too many of these as it will become too much to scan -people don't read websites like a book but scan them looking for something they want or catches their interest. Our club site has 8, the IAC has 12 - you can usually get by with 5 or 6.

How many main menu headers you have also depends on the next principle.

Nothing important should be more than one click away from the front (Home) page
- we are back to laziness again. The opposite of this is that items which are not that important must not be allowed to clog up access to the important stuff and so they can be reached by clicking though from one of the main pages not necessarily from the front page. So think of the Home page as the centre of the wheel, the main menu items as the spokes and then other stuff further out from these main spokes.

Webmaster's Tip

Do not start adding new main menu hyperlinks every time you find you have something new to add. Create a new page for it and link from the most appropriate main page.

If this new page contains something special and important to show include a 'Latest' link from the home page directly to the new page. In fact, I suggest you leave a bit of space permanently on the home page where you can put whatever is 'latest' without having to rearrange the whole page.

Go to Planning Navigation Right arrow.

Website Makeover Guides - Introduction

What Should the Content Be? | Navigation | Planning Navigation | Anchors & Links | Words | Getting Pictures | Getting & Using Pictures
Processing Pictures | Video | Presentation Pictures | Colours | Layout Principles | Layout Schemes | Fonts | What is SEO?
Search Engine Factors | Check Your Search Ranking | Stay Legal | Website Health Check | Website No Goes more to come ...

A Beginner's Guide to Creating a Club Website with Weebly

Don't Panic! | Signing up to Weebly | Making your first (elegant) page | Adding more pages and navigation
Adding pictures and words | Creating a complex Coming Soon Page | Adding Forms, Emails, Maps and Videos.

IAC Competition to find the Best Club Website 2011

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Page updated on 19 January 2011
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