Keeping Website Navigation Intuitive, Persistent and Consistent

Website Design Tip:  Persistent Navigation

Persistent navigation is the simple concept of ensuring that the navigation to complete an online activity is the same experience each time that the user returns to the site to pursue that activity. Five years ago this was a real problem, as site navigation changed frequently. As a result, the user was constantly lost or having to figure out how the website worked.

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A website is really an interactive piece of software. The navigation facilitates user goals of: 1) easily accessing content, community and commerce and 2) finding any desired feature or information page. The site should be straightforward, relatively simple to use and unchanging—with no surprises or misleading cues, such as design elements that look like links but instead are static graphics.

  • Site navigation, then, is simply a means to an end.
  • Too many options or too-clever strategies in the navigation hierarchy become confusing rather than helpful and run cross-purposes to the site’s goal.
  • Also, avoid unnecessary or arbitrary variations in the menu system.
  • And if the paradigm changes from visit to visit or from page to page, users will find a site with a better system.

So while persistent navigation is now rather common, site owners mustn’t become complacent. Users must always feel crystal clear about where they are, where they can go and how they can get back to somewhere they’ve been.

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