Clear Directions

Similar to overseas travel, visitors of a new Web site can also face directional challenges, only most of these people will be “traveling” alone. So, when a business tries to bring in potential customers using its Web site, there’s no time (or patience) for a detour: Providing clear directions is a priority.

Traveling can be a real adventure. So far this year, I’ve had the privilege of making a dozen trips to new locations, including three overseas junkets. I’ve noticed that regardless of the efforts made to keep order in these great cities, variations from one city to the next can sometimes create frustration in navigation. I was fortunate, in most cases, to be traveling with someone familiar with the area who could guide me.

Similar to overseas travel, visitors of a new Web site can also face directional challenges, only most of these people will be “traveling” alone. So, when a business tries to bring in potential customers using its Web site, there’s no time (or patience) for a detour: Providing clear directions is a priority.

Every Web designer has his or her own ideas about effective presentation. No two sites have the same combination of content and methods for accessing it. Just as city engineers must do all they can to keep traffic flowing with good roads and effective signage, it is the responsibility of Web designers to ensure a particular site clearly communicates its content to the visitor and provides the information quickly. Quality navigation on a Web site begins on the home page but must be followed through on all linked pages.

The intuitive flow of a site requires careful planning of the site’s architecture. The pages should be mapped out and grouped so that users can follow a natural path to the information they need. Thoughtful sorting of key links, then, will allow visitors to quickly determine how to make the most of their time. For more strategies on navigation planning and other ideas for strengthening your Web site, visit the “Resources” section of http://www.webcredible.co.uk.