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I bet it has happened to you at least once. You get to the index page of a Web site, start clicking, go through 10 pages to get to a document or file, and then have no idea where on the site you are or how you can get back. Admit it. You're lost.

You hit the Close button. Are you ever going to return to this Web site? Probably not.

As a Web designer, you want to build Web sites so the scenario above is not possible. You have to ensure that your site is "surfer-friendly," which means it is not only nice looking, but also easy to surf through. All pages on the site should be accessible with only one or two mouse clicks, and the navigation must be easy to understand. This way, you will keep visitors on the site longer, and have them return more often. And that's exactly what you are trying to do.

Remember, surfing a Web site is not like reading a book. Visitors will jump from page to page and from section to section. Keep it nice and simple for them to navigate through the site. A few things to pay attention to with navigation in general:

  • Link every page to the home page

  • Keep it simple—do not "surprise" anyone

  • Keep it consistent

  • Provide context

  • Provide different navigation "paths" instead of just one

In this article, I will also talk about several navigation techniques, as well as the "graphical" aspects (nice-looking buttons, Flash navigation menus, and so on). If you have any questions after reading this article, feel free to contact me through InformIT's Q&A feature.

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