Navigation is an important element of any website – it’s how the user moves from section to section and to your content. In addition to creating something unique, there are several navigation options in website design that are quite common, and for good reason, as they help the user navigate your site with ease.
- Horizontal text
- Vertical text
- Text with descriptions
- Drop-down menus
- Icons or images
Horizontal text navigation is perhaps the most common style on the web. This type of navigation consists of a horizontal list of sections of the site, usually named with one or two words. It can be created with images or plain HTML text, both of which can have rollovers for little user interaction.
In some cases, you may want to give the user the full information, even without a drop-down menu. Having submenus below the main navigation headings takes up more space and is less common, although visitors can clearly see what’s available and get what they need.
Vertical text navigation is also quite common and is often used for sites that require a longer list of items in the toolbar, extensible navigation, or longer titles. Vertical navigation is usually found on the left side of a web page, although navigation to the right can be effective when properly designed or for secondary navigation. Vertical navigation is often used for a second toolbar, such as subsections of a main section on a horizontal bar at the top of the page.
Text with descriptions
Navigation should be easy. The user needs to know what to expect when they click on something. Adding brief descriptions of what’s included in each section is a great way to make the site even more user-friendly. This approach requires thoughtful design, adding text to an element that needs to stay clean. If done effectively, it can be very helpful, especially for sites that may have slightly obscure section headings.
Drop-down menus are often used in conjunction with horizontal navigation and allow the user to jump not only to the main sections of the site, but also to many important subsections. Content-heavy sites can certainly benefit from drop-down menus because they eliminate clicks on your content.
Icons or images
By integrating icons or other images into your navigation, you can create an intuitive experience. The user will associate icons with the content they represent, providing an even clearer approach to the toolbar. A set of navigation icons should be created in a consistent style with each other and with the site as a whole, as they should enhance the design of the site and not be a distraction. It should also be clear what they represent. It may not be in the interest of the site to add icons to improve the design.
The above options can usually be found on the internet. There are, of course, many options for website navigation design. From navigation that disappears to navigation that follows you, experimenting can make your site unique… just make sure it’s still effective!