Navigation and Sitemaps
Sometimes when you click on a search result in Google, the site you end up at actually has useful information. So you decide to go click through to some of the other pages to see what else they have to offer. But then you’re met with a 404 error, no page available. Okay, try another. It goes to a page that’s different than the name you clicked. And then the menu bar vanished. You can’t even get back to the original page you visited and liked.
Navigation is a part of website development that makes the difference between someone exploring your site, and someone giving up in frustration. But people who don’t build websites don’t always remember that there’s someone who has to make it all happen. The term “Home” could actually go anywhere on the site—or even off the site—but an essential part of website development is making sure the navigation is intuitive.
What makes for good navigation?
Good navigation lets users arrive at their destination with the least amount of hassle. Think of it like a good GPS system that takes you around traffic and accidents. It may take you on roads you weren’t planning to take, but in the end you’re happy that it did.
The main navigation bar should be simple, descriptive, and easy-to-use. There should some indicator about which tab you’re on, and a little arrow if you have a dropdown menu that shows users ahead of time that there will be subcategories.
Some sites use a footer for navigation to lead to some of their more popular pages. While this can be helpful to find related pages, putting all of the pages down there makes it messy, and it’s much easier to have a dedicated sitemap instead.
What’s a sitemap?
A sitemap is a dedicated page that has a list of every page on your website. Depending on how your website is organised, the sitemap can be a single list or broken into categories, such as Pages for landing pages and Posts for blog posts, each of which lead to a list of all pages that fall under that category.
No matter how good your navigation is, sometimes a visitor wants to find a very specific page or post and do it quickly. Having a sitemap can let them quickly sort through all the topics and find what they’re looking for. Just make sure that the URLs are named well so that yoursite.com/best-pizza/ doesn’t go to a page with pineapple pizza and you’ll be all good.
Navigation is a big focus of our website design team. It needs to be simple, descriptive, and easy-to-use, but also stay true to your brand and its personality. It can be a tough challenge to accomplish all of this, but one that we’re prepared to take on and overcome.