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Repetition and consistency of the navigation elements from page to page are important. If a visitor sees the same navigation system on every page, it adds a comfort level of familiarity and orientation. If visitors have to search for the buttons on every page, or if the links have different words, techniques, or icons they get annoyed. Don't you?

Where are you?

A good navigation system gives the visitor a clue as to what page they are currently on. This can be as simple as unlinking the text link on that page so it's neither underlined nor in the link color. (That might sound obvious, but we have seen many pages with active links that take the visitor to the exact same page they are already on. Don't do that.)

If you use graphic icons in your navigation bar, create a visual clue in the graphic. A common technique is to fade the icon for that page into a shadow (and unlink it) as in Figures 5 and 6. Some people do just the opposite-the icon for the page you are on might be the only one that is not a shadow. You might have a triangle pointing to the icon representing the visible page, or a small symbol next to it, or a checkmark (see Figure 7). It doesn't need to be obtrusive, but it does need to be clear. Things don't have to be big to be clear.

So, by looking at these three navigation bars, can you guess which pages they were taken from?

On this site, you click a tab to go to that section (see Figure 8). On every page it's instantly clear not only where you are, but where else you can go from that page.

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