Here’s a rule of thumb regarding navigation you might want to tie to your hands and bind to your forehead:
““Whenever possible, you should leverage the existing knowledge of your user.” – Flanders/Peters
What does that mean ? Well, for one, it means using mechanisms that your user is already familiar with – in this case the hierarchical menu. If you are a Windows, MacIntosh, Gnome or KDE user, then you’ve seen them. In fact, chances are, your browser has them lined up along the top of your screen just under you title bar … with the first item more than likely being “File”.
No, I’m not prophetic, it is just the standard for the Graphical User Interface (GUI) of most, if not all, ‘windowed’ systems. So after (i.e. not before) you’ve gone through the task of organizing and categorizing your compelling content, it may make sense for you to employ a heirarchical menu of your own as a navigational aid. This is especially true for sites with huge amounts of volume.
I used to recommend “HierMenus” from the DHTMLab at WebReference.com, up until they wanted $29 a “Personal License” for any non-commercial Web site that is less than 5 pages. It’s not the price that bugs me, its the idea that a site comprised of only 4 pages even need a hierarchical menu! Or as the teenagers in my 11th grade Sunday school class would say “… duuuuhhh-a“.
Now I recommend some others out there, some that are free, some that are very worth their low price. In the former category, one of the menu tools I find very promising and relatively easy to install is CoolMenus which can be downloaded, and is documented, at Dynamic HTML Central – The ultimate place to find DHTML scripts, demos, tutorials and help. And as their title says, they do indeed have alot of useful stuff.
But before you go crazy, here is yet another gem to jam for your phylactery:
““All that glitters is not gold.” – Shakespeare
Or, you better have a good need for it, otherwise, DON’T USE IT!