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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

7 Ways To Improve Your Site's Navigation

Website Navigation image from Bobby Owsinski's Music 3.0 blog
One of the main premises of my Music 3.0 book is that your website should be the center of your online universe, not Facebook, ReverbNation, Ning, Tumblr or any social network.

The reason why is that you control everything about your website, where if you're on another platform, you're at their mercy. If they change their terms of service, the parameters of their user interface (i.e. Facebook), navigation, or anything else about the platform, you have no choice but to go along. A website can be custom designed for your brand, and everything else should feed into it.

That said, many artist websites are quickly designed with little thought. Even if you have a website that's due for an update, consider these 7 tips to improve its navigation, courtesy of Searchengineland.

1. Keep it consistent. Consistent navigation from page to page in both how and where things appear on the site promotes ease of use and increases your visitor's ability to find relevant information more quickly.

2. Divide categories clearly. All categories must be clearly and visually defined, with category headings separated visually from sub-categories.

3. Make all navigation elements clickable links. All major category headings should be clickable links, even though you may have a drop-down menu with sub-categories.

4. Use accurate navigation titles. Visitors need a general idea of what they should find on a page even before they click on a navigation link.

5. Ensure every clickable image has ALT text. Every image should include the ALT attribute (the alternate description of the graphic) complete with descriptive text. This is so everyone who views the page knows what the link is, regardless of how they view your site.

6. Ensure that your search feature works. You do have a way to search your site, right? Be sure that it always produces relevant results. No one likes a "not found" result.

7. Always test your site. Make sure that every link functions correctly before it goes live. This not only ensures a better user experience, but a better search ranking as well.

These are very simple points that will lead to a much better user experience, which is what we all want from a website.

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1 comment:

Ibukun said...

Great post. I think the second tip you gave is especially important with a blog site. I had to learn this when working on my blog. Once I separated each section into their correct category, it was much easier to follow. Another tip that would help is having a link back to the homepage on each of the sub-pages.

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