Create a Flow Chart for Easy Navigation


NavigationWhen you build a website, give your users a compass. That way they can always find their way home. There are as many navigational systems as there are sites. How do you decide what's right for your site?

The first step is to map out the structure of your site with a flow chart. Just as a film director draws a storyboard to illustrate the motion and chronology of movie shots, a visual guide like this will help you decide how users will move through your site.

Consider the hierarchy of your site. What are the main areas you want people to access from your homepage, and where do those pages lead?

For example, I'm building a site about Indian food. The top level is my homepage. It contains links to three main areas on the site:

  • Contact Us
  • Spices
  • Curries

Each of these pages branches out to subsections. Take Spices, for example. This page gets broken down into "mixing and grinding spices," "history of spices," and "where to buy" them. Notice also that I link across the site so that all the Spice subsections can be accessed without having to go back to the main page.

Remember that users don't like to do a lot of clicking-- make sure they can easily access your home page, even from a page deep within your site. Watch out for "orphan pages." These are dead-end pages that leave the user stuck in limbo with no option but to press the back button.

Clear, consistent icons, graphics, and text keep users oriented when they explore your site. Use the same icons and fonts that users recognize throughout the site. Webmonster has a clear navigational theme that is consistent on each page.

A flow chart is fundamental to your site's success and will save you a lot of headaches later on.

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