Where Am I?

header looking out“Where am I?” is a question your website visitors may ask themselves more often than you think. Since visitors can drop in on any page within a site, it is important that every page offer navigation options that orient them to the complete website. You can’t dictate the point of entry, but you can make it easy for them to get to the places you want them to visit.

In the words of the folks at Nielsen Norman Group:

Navigation should not only show where you can go but also where you are now. Each page on a website could be the first page your website visitors see, so it’s important to convey enough context so that people can proceed immediately toward their goals.

Your website layout should make it easy for visitors to identify the page topic and the location within the overall structure. Here are some of the tools that help with the goal of orienting visitors:

  • Link your logo to the home page. Other branding, such as color palettes and signature fonts may also be used to trigger recognition of an organization’s established credibility.
  • Make navigation markers more visually prominent when the user selects that topic. Often this prominence is achieved through highlighted coloring or offsetting the element in space, or both.
  • Breadcrumb paths help expose nearby content.
  • Descriptive, unique page titles help indicate ownership, information organization, and the page’s particular contents. These are important because they appear at the top of each window or tab, in search-engine results, bookmarks, and history lists.
  • Color-coding and other visible differences can signal a change of location.

For more insight, see Navigation: You Are Here.