Structure and Navigation

Here are a few points to bear in mind when thinking about the structure and navigation of your site: 

  • Make sure you have a good idea of the structure of your site and how the navigation will work before you start designing your pages.
  • Good navigation is essential. The user wants to click on links and find what they are looking for as quickly and easily as possible. Ideally 3 clicks or fewer is best.
  • You may want to use 'navigation menus' to keep all links in one place, such as the right- and left-hand navigation menus on the University site.
  • A site map may help with initial site organisation.
  • The content, categorisation and development of information of your site should be based on the target audiences needs.
  • Can you link to central resources rather than repeating information which is available/updated elsewhere?
  • Organise your information into directories if you are planning more than a few pages. This will make your site easier to manage as it expands.
  • When you are naming your sub-directories and pages, remember that your choices will determine the URL. Avoid using odd capitals or spaces - these may lead to errors when people are linking to your pages. Try to keep your URLs reasonably short.
  • It's best not to move/rename your pages once they are live as this can lead to broken links. Redirects can be set up if the content has to be moved, but ensure that they are seamless for the user.
  • Is the information on your site going to be visible to an external or internal audience? You may want to restrict access to some pages.
  • If you are restricting access to pages make this clear when naming your links.
  • If you're moving your site from server to server, or from your hard drive to the server, using relative (e.g., "page.html") rather than absolute (e.g., "http://www.ox.ac.uk/page.html") addresses will help make your site more portable, and minimise broken links in the future.