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The site decides the navigation style

Once you've gathered as much information as possible about what goes in the web site, and you've created a rough sketch of a flowchart of the site, use your overall impression of the material to decide what kind of personality the site should have: casual and friendly, technical and serious, businesslike or goofy-anything is possible.

Next, find a visual theme that represents the overall content and that can be carried throughout the site. The Roadrunning site (an online magazine about cars and driving) uses a gear shift for navigation. The Cowboys & Indians magazine web site uses western brands against leather backgrounds (as shown Figure 3). A furniture site uses furniture and woodworking tools to set the tone for an artisan's site.

Not all sites use complex graphics for navigation links. Navigation elements can be as simple as key words or phrases in plain text grouped together somewhere on the page. This is a good solution when you don't have the necessary visual space for more graphics and icons, or you may just want a look of simplicity or sophistication. If so, why bog down the page with lots of navigation icons? Robin's ratz.com site is easy to navigate and its elegant simplicity is more attractive than many heavily designed and illustrated sites (see Figure 14).

The ratz.com site combines simplicity and elegance, allowing for clear navigation and extremely fast download times.

[John said that-isn't he kind? I can't say it's elegant, but it is simple and downloads in 8 seconds on a 14.4 modem. Because this is only a list of links and their descriptions, I didn't try to keep it in a horizontal format. No one stays on this page very long—it's for leaping off to other sites. Robin]

Woodworking and art are the two messages we wanted to send in this site. The home button is designed as a page divider—it allows more room above for other icons and can be used alone on some pages.

Jimmy's graduation site is a photo gallery for friends and family, so thumbnails of the photos was all he needed for navigating. On each page, there are captions, as well as buttons to take the visitor back or forward through the list of photos, as well as back home.

A gear shift sets the mood for this site about cars and driving. Special programming called JavaScript makes different icons appear on the gear shift knobs when the mouse is positioned over each one of the gear knobs. Subsequent pages do not have room for the gear shift diagram but the knobs are repeated on every page.

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