When a visitor steps aboard your website, the last thing you want him to do is abandon ship before he has a chance to get started. Yet if you lack proper navigation tools, he will simply give up in frustration. A poor navigation system increases site bounce rates and repels those who stay longer. Visitors have little patience for sites that make them work to find the information they want.

Here are a few tips to help you smooth the waters and allow visitors to find their way with ease.

Avoid Horizontal Scrolling

Unwieldy and awkward are two adjectives that come to mind when one grapples with horizontal scrolling. Vertical scrolling is the norm–and if you are ever in doubt, consider your mouse and its lack of a horizontal wheel. Only include vertical scrolling in your web site if you want to make the visiting experience a pleasant journey.

Underline Text-Based Links

All text-based links should be underlined, as this is a standard sign for visitors. At the same time, avoid underlining words that are not links. Another feature that can be very helpful is changing the color of links that have already been clicked. While these points may sound obvious, it is startling how many website owners forget about them.

Include Header and Footer Links

A key part of any website is its capacity to control consumers toward buying your product or engaging in whatever service you provide. To do this, it is very important to include links to your site’s most important sections at the top and the bottom of every page. Most visitors view the top when first trying to figure out how to find something; however, after reading something, they don’t want to scroll back up to the top. Hence the importance of a footer link.

Make Your Categories Effective

In order to make your site easily navigated, it is essential that you properly employ categorization. Not only should your categories be specific and well-defined, they should include easy-to-understand names. Also do not be afraid to use sub-categories.

Don’t Fiddle With the Browser

While some web designers may find it interesting to manipulate the browsers, this is a terrible mistake. When a visitor clicks on a link, they do not want to be routed to a new window or have their existing window resized. Ensure that your links open in the existing browser window.

Include a Search Function

Though your site may include the most ingeniously designed pages on the web with excellent navigation, a vast number of visitors don’t even want to attempt browsing for the information they want. They go right to the search bar to type in the key words of what they are looking for. Be sure to include an effective search engine on your site–especially if you have a lot of content.

Be Consistent

This applies to most aspects of web site design, but it is particularly important when it comes to straight-forward navigation. Ensure that links are located in the same place on every page of your site. Make sure they are positioned according to popular web standards.

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