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ONLINE BUSINESS

How Navigable Is Your Site?

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Frustration does not sell your product. If visitors to your site cannot easily reach what they're looking for, they'll shop elsewhere. Yet a great many e-commerce sites still fail to meet basic navigation needs.

Update your site map
A table of contents or site map with links to all content areas speeds navigation and serves as a "panic button" for visitors who have lost their bearings. Modify your site map to reflect any new content. Also be sure to include a link to your site map on any added pages.

Use descriptive titles in your <strong>tags</strong> <br />Users rely on their browser's back and forward buttons, so furnish unique, descriptive titles for each page - that's what is shown in the back/forward button drop-down menus. A page title like "Page 3," for example, probably won't offer much help for navigation. On the other hand, "Ordering and Shipping Information" tells visitors exactly what they'll find.</p> <p> <strong>Use the</strong> <ALT> <strong>attribute</strong> <br />Many people, especially those with slow Internet connections, surf the Web with the image-viewing capacity of their browser turned off. Make sure that graphics-free visitors aren't missing important navigation elements or other critical content. Example:</p> <blockquote> <p><IMG SRC="monkey.gif" ALT="This is a picture of a monkey."></p> </blockquote> <p>Viewers with graphics capability see your image (but not the text). Those who have graphics viewing turned off see only the text. Make sure the text description is adequate for making navigation easy.</p> <p> <strong>Don't overdo your design</strong> <br />Don't go overboard with colors, images, and other display elements, but don't be afraid of them either. If your pages seem a little bland, consider using a different background color. A color can be set for the entire page with the <BGCOLOR> attribute inside the <BODY> tag:</p> <blockquote> <p><BODY BGCOLOR="white"></p> </blockquote> <p>If you are using tables, the entire table or each individual cell in the table can be set to unique colors:</p> <table cellspacing="2" cellpadding="2"> <tr> <td bgcolor="#66FF99"> <code><TABLE BGCOLOR="lime"></code> </td> <td bgcolor="#99FFFF">Sets the background color of the entire table</td> </tr> <tr> <td bgcolor="#D63194"> <code><TR BGCOLOR="fuchsia"></code> </td> <td bgcolor="#99FFFF">Sets the background color of a table row</td> </tr> <tr> <td bgcolor="#FF0000"> <code><TD BGCOLOR="red"></code> </td> <td bgcolor="#99FFFF">Sets the background color of a table cell</td> </tr> </table> <p>Copyright 1995-1999 Pinnacle WebWorkz Inc. All rights reserved. Do not duplicate or redistribute in any form.</p> <p><img alt="logo" src='http://images.inc.com/logos/21605.gif'/></p> </div> </div> <!-- related_articles --> <!-- END: related_articles --> <div id="bottom-of-article"> <div class="updated">Last updated: Dec 14, 1999</div> <br clear="all"> </div> <div class="morearticles" style="margin-bottom: 30px;"><p class="readmorehead" style="margin-top:10px; margin-bottom: 5px;">More:</p> <p class="readmoreitem" style="margin-top: 5px; margin-bottom: 5px;"><a href="http://www.inc.com/magazine/201309/darren-dahl/how-to-run-a-successful-company-from-home.html?cid=readmore">How I Run a $16 Million Company Out of My Living Room</a></p> <p class="readmoreitem" style="margin-top: 5px; margin-bottom: 5px;"><a href="http://www.inc.com/curt-hanke/2-books-you-need-to-read-for-better-business.html?cid=readmore">2 Remarkable Books That Will Change Your Life--And Your Business</a></p> <p class="readmoreitem" style="margin-top: 5px; margin-bottom: 5px;"><a 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