Since most people are visual creatures, a website that is more pleasing to the eye will more than likely keep your user’s attention, prompting further exploration of your site. Your website navigation is one of many ways you can make your website more fascinating. The idea of stepping out of the box and creating new website designs is what may differentiate you from your competitors. More and more designers are starting to replace the typical text links with images and Flash designs for more appeal. Whatever style or technique you decide to use for your navigation, you should never lose site of your user’s experience.
This may seem like a simple task, but there is some logic behind it. It’s called “usability”. You must use navigational techniques geared towards the user. It doesn’t matter how clever or unique your design is, if your user’s can’t easily use it. If your site is found to be too difficult to navigate, users will inevitably move on to the next one. Your website navigation should be clean, easy to find and easy to understand for your intended viewers. Once the creative juices start to flow sometimes we forget about the usability of our site, and our intended audience.
With the exception of the casual browser, most people who click on a site are looking for something specific. These are your users, the people that are most likely to buy something, or recommend you to friends and family. This genre is who you should be thinking about when creating your navigation. Sometimes when designers start trying different types of navigation, that’s considered out-of- the-norm, they can be lead to strange and impracticable solutions. Functionality for the intended audience should be your number one concern.
For example, a gamer site could have buttons/links that may blend in with the websites graphics. Not only will this site probably attract an audience who can easily find these buttons, it allows them to interact with the site (sort of like playing the game). On the other hand this would be highly inappropriate for an e-commerce site for women’s clothing for instance. First of all, you would want all pertain links to be visible for optimum sales, and most people who shop online want to learn about the product than buy it. Interactive games and animation probably isn’t something that would interest this crowd when searching for a bargain.
Keep in mind that not everyone wants to be wowed with bells and whistles when using the website navigation, but when it is appropriate, unique navigational menus can be a great attention getter.