February 7th, 2012 / Web Design & Development

Why Flat Navigation Is Bad For Large Sites

Have you ever noticed that user/website visitor needs change as a website grows? It’s true. You should test this for yourself.

Imagine building a website with 10 pages. Only 10. No more. How many of those pages do you think you need to feature on your main navigation menu? Maybe all 10, right? It could be less if some of those pages are terms of service and privacy policy. Then you might only feature 8 of your pages. 8 items on a navigation menu is plenty. But what if your website had 100 pages?

You wouldn’t put 100 pages on a navigation menu, would you? Do you think your website visitors would appreciate showing up on your website and seeing 100 links sprawled across the top of your page? How many could you fit on one row? 10? 8? 12? How many rows of navigation would you then require?

The best way to set up a navigation menu for a large site is to organize your website into a hierarchy. You MUST determine the relationship each of your pages have to other pages on your website.

So let’s take that 100 page website again. What if you had 10 categorical parents in your hierarchy. And what if each of those categories had a list of other pages that fell in under. Some might have 5, some 10, and others 15. But all of them would have sub-pages within the category.

Here’s what you do. You set up a Tier-1 navigational structure on your nav menu. Your 10 level one categories are featured there. Let your visitor mouse-over each of those categories and see a drop down menu that features each of the sub-pages within that category.

That’s how you set up a navigation menu for a large site. It doesn’t hurt your SEO. It helps it. And it helps your visitor too.

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