Navigation today is an integral part of web design and goes beyond aesthetics. Much of navigation design today is part of the CSS used for the website, while the functionality remains in the mark up language.
Ideas abound for creating navigation. Here is a summary of some of the modern trends.
Menus have been used for long now. They are the simplest of the navigation tools. However, the ways in which they can be used are endless. Today, some of the common trends in menus include using them with subtitles in CSS. Another trend in the use of menus is with page separation. Essentially, this is done to keep large amounts of content organized. This stems from the fact that separation of menu classes or types makes it easier for the visitor to mentally categorize information. This serves navigation and also improves the efficiency of calls-to-action.
Today, sidebars are a common sight on web pages. Their use and efficiency is highly debated. However, they seem to find favor with many web developers. They can be useful for making non conventional design where the content is not heavy. However, issues that are common with this type of design arise due to the use of images along with CSS. This means trouble with SEO techniques. Legibility is again another issue. Despite all of these apparently discouraging issues, a webpage can pull it off if it were a portfolio or a profile page. This is simply reiterating the fact that the type of website determines the navigation.
Post headers are common with blogs. The primary objective is to create interest. The logo or header is the first location to which the eyes go. If important navigation elements like the menu or call to action buttons were to be placed here, the likelihood of meeting the final goal of the webpage increases. The proportion of the header is important – the navigation elements should not be hidden by the header or logo, while at the same time it should not seem jarring. The navigation elements have to be separated well by white space and should ideally have backgrounds contrasting that of the logo.
This type of navigation is ideal when visual appeal takes precedence over content. Web-pages with high resolution images played as a Flash object often has pointers. Icons also help navigation because they seem uncluttered and are easy to find. Besides that, it’s a lot easier to use icons as the viewer associates an image with the navigation element.
Considered as extra graphical elements, a pointer can create better interaction. They are largely used for hover effects over bars. They are used these days with icons to create a strong visual appeal.
Unconventional design ideas
The trends are not restricted to the above mentioned ideas. Many websites have navigation that does not fit any category. It may be a risk but if it is possible to experiment, then it may actually turn out to be a good idea.