Navigation should not be taken lightly since it is the most important interfacing utility on your website. Many times, people throw in whatever they think is important on the site. This is almost like going to the fridge and throwing together everything you like into one salad - it is just not effective and will probably leave a bad taste in your mouth.
Navigation should be thought through carefully. When considering the top level navigation, it is usually better to cut out options than add them. Sit down with a pen and paper and map out each section and page that needs to be in the navigation (notice I did not say “that you want to be in the navigation”).
This fits hand-in-hand with the first tip. Determine the options in which your user will be most interested. What are the sections most used on your site? How do users flow through your site? Do they check one section first, then another? How can you arrange the navigation and options to improve the user experience?
Try to group items into logical contexts. If it does not fit in the group, then it needs to go somewhere else. Many links live perfectly fine in the footer. Don’t think that every single section/link/page needs to be in the main navigation cascade.
More times than not, the first stab at a navigation is not the most effective. Analyze your traffic flows and adjust accordingly. If you find that your users are not clicking on the “About Us” page, then it may be better to link to this page in the footer. You goal is to create the best navigation interface possible for the user. Give them what they need to make browsing the site most effective.
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