Navigation & Menu Items

Organize your content and label menu items so that your website is easy for your visitors to use. The art and science of organizing and labeling websites is called information architecture. Consideration of the context, content and users is essential.

How to Start

Many people start with a hierarchically organized outline categorizing the content they have written or intend to write. This can be created in any word processing program and is frequently translated directly into the information architecture.

Common Mistakes

  • The menu items should inform the visitor of what to expect without having to visit the page.
  • Jargon, acronyms and abbreviations should be avoided.
  • No more than 5 – 7 items is recommended for the top level menu.

If you’re worried about how many clicks it takes to reach content, please read the article Reducing The Number Of Clicks Is Highly Overrated.

Finding Solutions

Test your menu items. Ask a friend or colleague to attempt a task or two on your site. If they are not able to navigate to the desired information,  you may need to make some changes. This is called informal usability testing.

Card sort activities will allow you to discuss your navigation before it is on your website. It can be as easy as writing each menu item on an index card and asking a friend to sort them into logical categories.

If you are struggling to organize your website, public relations staff in your department or the COFA Web team can make additional recommendations.

Learn More

What is Information Architecture article in the Guardian is an excellent place to begin. Foundations of UX: Information Architecture on Lynda.com. Find step-by-steps, tips and tools on Usability.gov. Find numerous articles on A List Apart website.  When you’re ready to dig deep check out The Ultimate Guide to Information Architecture article and Boxes and Arrows, a peer-written journal for Information Architects.

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