what does navigation mean

What is the meaning of navigation in the broadest sense ?  

Navigation or Web Navigation refers to the process of checking out and managing information and resources with an effective use of the World Wide Web( WWW) Largely, navigating means exploring or visiting the website and through the web to collate, curate, check out information and increase usability. The platform or the user interface used for this navigation is called a web browser.

What is navigation in a website ?

example of navigation

In a website, navigation would essentially be a roadmap to the website and its nuances. Therefore, web navigation allows for focused exploration for the user which facilitates visiting the websites in the most compatible manner. It induces curiosity within the user about getting to explore the website more and more. The major types of web navigation include Supplementary, Contextual, Global, Local navigation etc. Depending on various factors and aspects, the types of navigation are decided. More than that, web navigation allows and facilitates movement from one web page to another easily and smoothly.

Why it is important ?

Navigation plays a very crucial role in instructing through and through and also getting the website users to see a much more holistic view of the webpage. The various functions of web navigation allow for a comfortable experience to the user. Navigation shapes the way we look at different things on the web page. It gives curated information about the brand, the value and reflects all the other features as well. Thus, navigation is all about traversing through the nuances and visiting various web pages using a web browser and gaining information that the user finds reliable.

What is User Friendly navigation?


User Friendly navigation implies ease of access and hassle free functioning when the user is  visiting the website or web page. A web navigation only gets successful if it is easy to handle, navigate and access. The key component of navigation is to enable a solid architecture. An ideal navigation should facilitate movement from one place to another in a way that is consistent and articulate.

Specifically, in simple terms, navigation should take you to places to explore on your website and provide you with more options in that same regard. Headings and sub headings are very important in a navigational structure. For a smoother working, you should adapt your website to match the user needs. A good navigation should indicate to the user where he currently is and also should provide some way to navigate back and forth. Providing a search function helps in better navigation.

Purpose of navigation.


Without an efficient navigation system, the visitor or the user is unable to find the point of contacts and moving further on the web page. The purpose of a friendly navigation system is solely to keep the user on your website and make him explore. This can be done through making the website enticing enough for the user to keep exploring with curiosity.

Function of navigation on a website :-

  • Usability and smooth functioning are the most important purposes of web navigation- usability in terms of user experience and access and smooth functioning all the way.
  • The use of website navigation tools allows for a glitch free experience and provides efficiency.
  • A website navigation is a more or less a map of key areas / functions of the website. Its similar to a map of a place where there are multiple places of interests.

Types and Categories of Web Navigation


  • The headers or the links at the top of the webpage are the first things that grabs the focus of the user. However, there are other types of navigation as well. They need to be taken care of, efficiently.

header navigation

  • Apart from the top headers, you have sidebars. They’re mostly placed on either side of the primary navigation on the website. They act as supplementary navigation. Some websites can have more than two sidebars. Sidebars help one in easy access and understanding of the platform. Lets see an example of facebook’s sidebar navigation.

facebook sidebar navigation

  • Footers are an important part of a web navigation as headers and sidebars. They often contain links to the site’s main pages as well as popular resources- mostly the social media handles and contact information for further communication. They allow for various links to function at the same time, which enables better user experience.

footer navigation

  • Many websites also use breadcrumbs. Breadcrumbs show the interlinked connection between pages and platforms. They are similar to cookies. Containing hierarchy here too, these breadcrumbs contain specific hierarchical pages. They are located within other web pages and act as channels for larger reach.

breadcrumb navigation

There are three further categories of a web navigation system namely Global Navigation, Local Navigation and Contextual Navigation.

Global navigation

as the name suggests, is present on all pages of the website. It provides access to key web pages within a website. It generally forms part of the header in a website. Some websites also have footer menus. These are also site wide.

Local Navigation

acts as a navigation within a given subject or topic. Take it as a micro menu guiding users further down the line, when user is on a particular area / web page.

Contextual navigation

provides navigation through content or hyperlinks. These are links within text which leads to other links, that are related or are an extension of the earlier context. This is often termed as interlinking. Thus, hyperlinks act as access points for further content related information.

How to structure your content or what is the best navigational structure ?

The patterns or different approaches to organize the website depends on the context too. This way the patterns could be:

  • Task Based
  • Content Based
  • Menu Driven
  • Transactional

Along with this, many aspects of web design and development are important, which should make the page look appealing and enticing to the user.

Tips to achieve optimal navigation.

After one gets a proper hang of the navigation and its efficacy, some important tips to navigate through the complexities of a website or platform would be the following :

  • Making hypertext clear and unique: The hypertext has to be unique from every other element of the page. The font, color and decoration can be different. Usually hyperlinks appear as blue and underlined.
  • Highlight important links : One can also turn their header navigation links into buttons if one wishes to.
  • Streamlining and customizing the Navigation bar: If the navigation menu becomes too verbose, consider organizing the site in a better way, according to the needs and requirements of the content. Use a nested menu with links categorized under separate headings.
  • Keep sidebars separate and don’t forget the footers:   A sidebar should be put out and loud to the user . It should stand out. This can be achieved through using different colors while separating them. There are various themes on blogging platforms that use footers to avoid clutter. This way, instead of including many links and crowding the page, footers can help shorten and streamline the content.
  • Leave the buttons for the call to action: There are a lot of techniques in website designing to emphasize on a particular link. Thus, there is a use of navigation buttons. One should reserve these buttons for immediate attention to users. But, too many buttons can suffocate user experience. You can make these links more visible through colors or fonts. Make it bolder and brighter.

Suffice to say you’re the success of your website depends vastly on website navigation and the way content is structured. Your sole aim should be to engage the user and make your website content as accessible as possible.

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