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Some Free Advice!
One of the most important steps you must take in setting up a web site is to provide people with an easy and consistant method of getting around. For each method and example that is presented, the benefits and drawbacks of each will be explained.

The best advice we can give you is that you try and make it as easy as possible for a person to stay in your site. Being overly creative in this aspect of web design will most likely not work to your advantage.

The navigation method on your site is much like the controls of a car. Think about how clever it would be to switch the gas and break pedals. Allow people to concentrate on your content- not your controls.

The Traditional Icon Navigation Bar
This is the a method that we prefer to use, typically we will use this on all of our pages in one form or another. I feel that it is superior to image maps and JAVA for a few reasons:
  • Low maintainence.
  • Everybody pretty much can figure out what they mean.
  • By using the ALT description- it works great with text based browsers.
  • It is very easy to add new choices or eliminate obsolete ones.
  • Does not require JAVA, ACTIVE-X, and even loads faster than a typical image map.

Here is an example of the typical navigation bar

The Table & Text Navigator
Of all the attractive methods of presenting a lot of small choices on a dynamic site, this technique can be the best and easiest to work with. Here's why:
  • Smallest in size, loads fast.
  • Works with all browsers. In Lynx they just sort of wrap around in the order you present them.
  • Using the COLOR attribute, you can get a graphical type of effect.
  • Easy to modify as your site grows!

Here is an example of this navigation device.

A Nice Alternative to the Image Map
One way to get the appearance of an Image Map without the hassle, is to take a large image and chop it up into a group of smaller ones. Of course the pieces must line up both vertically and horizontally! You then arrange your small graphics to form the original big one. Instant image map look-a-like.
  • Saves you the process of mapping the image coordinates
  • By using the ALT description- it works great with text based browsers.
  • Does not require JAVA, ACTIVE-X, and even loads faster than a typical image map.

Here is a an example of the split up graphic that you see all the time. Believe me, these people could have used an image map if they wanted to. ;->

A simple FORMS pulldown menu without the GO button

Similar to the pulldown menu mentioned above, this one uses a form selector for your user to choose from. The difference is that it comes with a small javascript subroutine that allows you to dispose of the GO button! For a full explanation and sourcecode, see this page.

Using unordered lists for descriptive menus

Often you may find that just a word or two is not enough to provide your reader with enough information to make a proper selection. Here is an example of the unordered list menu.

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