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Web Design Tutorials - Beginning Design Considerations

Consistent and Intuitive Navigation

Having a successful web site means much more than just attracting visitors. Once you draw them in, you must grab their interest and keep them at your site. Among the biggest mistakes a site can make is to display a confusing and/or inconsistent navigation scheme. Purchases are not made and repeat visitors are not won by visiting just your home page. People need time to explore and become comfortable with your offerings.

Consider the following examples:

An example of confusing site navigation An example of intuitive site navigation

Each picture is a fictitious navigation system. In the picture on the left, are you able to quickly locate the page you want to visit, or do you need to hunt around each time you want to go to a new page? How about the picture on the right? Which system makes you most likely to stick around and explore?

If you prefer Tomz Totally Intuitive Site, you have passed your first major test and are well on your way to building a site that your visitors find as enjoyable as you do. That may not sound like much, but it is a very important point. The biggest pitfall of most site designers is that they get caught up in how cool something is that they just put together, not realizing how annoying it is for everyone else. Even the most experienced web designers started out doing these things, so don't feel bad if you start with a few duds.

Once you have settled on an intuitive navigation scheme, you must make it consistent throughout the site. If your visitor gets two pages into your offerings and is suddenly confronted by unfamiliar navigation, they will quite likely become bewildered and take their business elsewhere.

As simple as consistency sounds in theory, in reality it is one of the most difficult and potentially time consuming aspects of building and maintaining a quality web site. In a later tutorial, you will learn how to harness the power of Server Side Includes (SSI) and make your webmastering days much more pleasant.

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