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Navigation

Think of signs above aisles in supermarkets and on street corners. Clear navigation, together with naming and positioning conventions, help you find your way around. websites are similar.

Good navigation and clear signposts help make a website usable.

Let's say a website is like a supermarket. When you want to find particular product in the supermarket, you look for signs above the aisle, then signs on the shelves, then labels on the product and you take the product to the check out.

If you can't find the product, you walk round the supermarket becoming more and more frustrated. You may find the product eventually or you may abandon your search for that particular product. (You may also blame the supermarket chain for their unintuitive layout.)

Using a website is similar. You use navigation and signposts until you find what you want. If you can't find it, you leave frustrated and potentially with a lower opinion of the organisation responsible for the website.

So, having clear, simple and consistent navigation is important for two reasons:

  • Users can find what they want intuitively
  • Users have a satisfying experience on your website, which reflects positively on the University

Web conventions

Conventions are ideas which have worked well and become adopted over time. They give a sense of familiarity and make things easier to use. We expect to see street signs on the corner of the street and supermarket signs above the aisles. Think how frustrating it would be if these conventions were broken!

It's important to follow web conventions, to put navigation in a standard place and keep signs consistent. There are conventions in relation to website navigation:

  • Navigation menu at the top or left-hand side
  • Search box at the top right
  • Organisation's logo and name at the top left, which also acts as a link to the home page
  • Organisation contact details in the footer
  • Related links to the right of main content

In sites made with SiteBuilder using the University's ID7 template, the navigation is always at the top, your department or service's name at the top left and the search box at the top right:

Default position of navigation menu, site title and search box in ID7 template