Navigation is one of those elements involved with designing a great website that either works – or it doesn't. If it works, great; if it doesn’t, users may have problems getting around the website which is about the same as it being broken, both of which would defeat its main purpose. One thing it doesn't mean is that there must be a plain, dull, and boring menu bar just like every other one out there. It is certainly possible for navigation to be designed with some uniqueness without losing the primary purpose of getting users from Point A to Point B.
Some of the most creative websites today frequently implement some ingenious ideas for navigation. As exciting as some of those ideas can appear, many are unfortunately not appropriate for every internet location. Realistically, menus that use special effects, flash, and java script are more suitable for websites that are meant to be viewed in an artistic way while providing pertinent information to users.
It is more common for a website to provide navigation that is read, used, and understood in a normal fashion as opposed to being viewed creatively, as special effects of any kind can become a distraction. Loading speed is slowed down, users are confused by what they see, and smooth usage is just not possible. The appearance of these types of menus can be quite stunning; however, they are generally not recommended for websites that are basically informative and any type of business website.
Avoiding special effects does not necessarily limit a website to plain bars with text buttons. Incorporating the menu into overall design plans rather than treating it as a separate entity can be readily handled by a skilled designer who can provide a degree of aestheticism to create a navigation look different from many others.
This can be accomplished by using color, texture, typeface and size, and simple hover effects that are fairly standard in helping visitors get around. Fly-out links can even be used so long as they can be easily found and used; it is also possible to simply create buttons that combine horizontally or vertically to be part of the website design or act as an embellishment. The main emphasis is to avoid being too complex, use design elements that match the rest of the website’s design, and use the same navigation bar on each page to keep the appearance uniform which will help prevent user confusion.
Regardless of color, typeface, or shape of its background, the important thing is for a menu to be predictable; this means designing the navigation so that a visitor who is new to the website does not have any difficulty at all in finding, using, and understanding how to move from one page to another. Keeping this idea in mind may help some developers know how far creativity can go before it becomes too much. Testing a proposed design to be sure that it does not create any confusion with less experienced internet users will determine if the planned navigation is within reasonable limits.
Keeping menu function similar to general website expectations such as drop-downs, fly-outs, hover and other accents is a big part of keeping things understandable. Keeping the number of navigation levels as low as possible - preferably three levels or less – will help prevent confusion as well.
There is always room for creativity when designing navigation bars, so long as it is well planned and properly designed. Being able to stay within the limitations of easy usability while working some uniqueness into the menu is the main task, one that with a little thought should result in creative website navigation!
Article Source: http://www.abcarticledirectory.com
Chris Hunter is an expert in Web Design, Search Engine Marketing, and Reputation Management. To find out more about Houston Web Design, go to the main website at: www.webunlimited.com.
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