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Common Mistakes with Navigation Bars

     Most of today's navigation bars are very useful. But, some of them still need a little tweaking.

Too Cluttered

     Many webmasters are trying to put links to every single page of website onto their navigation bars. But, the more buttons you put on the navigation bar, the more confused visitors can become. Once they are confused, they will just leave your site. Your navigation bar doesn't have to contain links to all of the pages. It only needs to have links to the essential pages, such as the "home," "about us" and "contact us" pages. Use main content (not the navigation bar) to link to all the other pages of your site.

     Basically, if you cannot nicely put links to all of your website's pages on a navigation bar, your site is too big to browse in this way. Visitors will give up browsing your site and try to search. So instead, offer a site search feature and let your visitors use it, rather than having a cluttered navigation bar.

"Back" Button Compatibility

     Because the browser's "back" button is the most-used feature, your navigation bar should be compatible with it. Some expandable navigation bars aren't fully compatible with the "back" button. Visitors can expand one of the menus and visit one of the pages listed in the expanded menu. Nothing wrong so far. When they click the browser's "back" button, they can go back, but all expanded menus will collapse. So, they have to re-expand the menu to visit another page in the expandable part of the navigation bar. Even though it is only one extra mouse-click, this will irritate visitors enough to leave your site.

© December, 2005