This post is part 2 of the Website Content Blueprint. In the first post you covered why you need to have a website.
In part 2 we are going to figure out what pages you need for your site and how we are going to organize those pages within the site. As you probably know, we use menus to help the user navigate their way through our site. So, whether you call it a menu, the navigation, or nav they all refer to the way you get from page to page on a site.
Most sites feature a main menu navigation bar horizontally across the top of the page. This is usually above or below the main image, sometimes it is over that image. Due to rise of mobile usage, sites with vertical navigation in a sidebar have grown out of fashion, you can have a site with one, but it needs to be carefully designed for an optimal experience.
Number of Menu Items
When it comes to the number of navigation items on your menu you will want to have between 7 and 9. Research regarding short term memory shows that the average number of items you can remember is seven, so you might want to consider optimizing your page with 7 or fewer menu items. If you have 10 or more it will start to be confusing to the user. Less than 5, you are probably missing some important pages for your site.
If you can avoid it, don’t use drop down menus. According to usability studies from the Nilsen Norman Group, they are ineffective and don’t work. This is because as visitors, we move our eyes much faster than we move the mouse. When we move the mouse to a menu item, we’ve already decided to click…and then the drop down gives us more options. It’s a moment of friction in the mind of your visitors.
Even worse, drop downs encourage visitors to skip important top-level pages. For example, many small ensembles have an about page with a group bio on the main about menu page. But, on the menu, when you move the mouse over “About” you get a drop down with the names of the members. When you use this style of navigation your visitors are likely to skip the group bio and move on maybe with reading any of it.
So, how do you fix this? You can have just a single link to the about page and then from the about page you can have links to each individual bio. You can make this more interesting by using images with links to those pages.
Here is a list of the pages that you might want to have on your site. We will talk briefly about each. In the next few lessons we will dive deep into the home and about pages for your site.
Essential Website Pages
- Photo Gallery
- Events Calendar
- Press Kit
While this list is not at all exhaustive, it is a good start for you to think about the pages you will need to get started with a great website. You probably won’t need all of these, or you can combine some into one.
One of the great things about your website is that you can change it. You don’t need every item to be finished before you launch a site.