- Evolve Web Hosting, LLC
- November 21, 2016
One of the first steps in creating your website is to layout your Navigation Structure. This sets the flow for your visitors and how they will find all of the great content you're about to provide them with!
How many times have you visited a website and struggled to find what you're looking for? Often times, developers and/or individuals over look the importance of setting up the navigation structure early on. Your website navigation serves as a blueprint for the overall look and layout of your website and it's extremely important to visitors and search engines as well.
Where to Begin
If you're running a smaller website with 5 - 8 pages, you should be able to create a single link to each page within the navigation area of your site. If you have more than 7-8 pages for your website, you'll want to grab a piece of paper and map out 5-7 main navigation links (categories) and then create sub links underneath each in order to guide your visitors around your site in a more efficient manner.
Auto Search for Larger Sites
If you have a website with more than 15 - 16 pages, it's time to consider adding a highly functional search bar to allow visitors to simply type in what they are looking for and access the information they need much faster. Most CMS (Content Management Systems) such as Wordpress and most Ecommerce Software (Opencart, Magento, etc.) have a basic search function included. We highly recommend investing in a plugin or module to provide your visitors with an auto search suggestion feature to reduce the number of page loads and time required to find your content.
Breadcrumbs are another great option for your website whether you personally use them or not. A breadcrumb is a trail of links to show the user how they got to the page they are on. One example we'll provide is for a sub link within a category.
For this example, we'll consider a Home Page, Category Name 'Bats' and the sub link 'Louisville Slugger'. Your breadcrumbs on the 'Louisville Slugger' page would look like this:
Home > Bats > Louisville Slugger
This is an example of breadcrumbs on our website
There are 2 types of sitemaps for a website: 1) An XML sitemap that is submitted to search engines to make them aware of all of your pages and 2) A Sitemap that is an actual page on your website. In this article, we are going to discuss option # 2 so that you can implement the same concept on your own website.
A Sitemap is a simple page of your website that lists every page and it is broken down by the same structure as your main menu. You can take a look at ours as an example: Evolve Web Hosting Sitemap.
Modifying an Existing Website Navigation Structure
If you already have a website up and running and you realize after reading this blog that you need to update the structure, you can do so. We suggest first listing all of your pages in a document with their links before you start making changes. In order to keep from frustrating visitors with broken links, we suggest that you take the time to create 301 redirects in your .htaccess file in order to ensure there are no broken links. You can do a Google Search on this topic or reference this article: Moz SEO Redirection Tips
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