Wednesday, July 25, 2012
Every website has a navigation menu. For most law firms, this menu includes a home “button” and direct links to pages highlighting the firms’ practice areas, office locations and attorney profiles. And while it is a critical component of the site, it is not one that is often carefully analyzed by firms when they set out to create a new website
To ensure that website visitors have a good experience and are able to easily locate information on your firm, it’s important that you consider the following options when designing your website:
Identify the key pages to be included on the navigation menu early on in the development phase
Generally, there will be some kind of limitation in terms of how many pages you can add to the navigation menu because ultimately there will be space restrictions. If you decide to have a horizontal menu, this will prove even more challenging since the width of a site is fixed. Determine what your key pages will be and how you might organize subpages within these main sections. Make sure you don’t have too many options on your menu as this can be overwhelming and frustrating to visitors. Also, ensure that the page names used in the menu are descriptive so visitors can easily find what they’re looking for.
Test out the functionality
There are many nuances that come with designing an effective navigation menu. For instance, how will subpages function? Will visitors have to click on an item in the menu to have a drop down menu of relevant pages appear or will a visitor simply have to hover over a menu item to see corresponding pages? Does the color of the menu change once a visitor has clicked on an item to indicate where the visitor is?
An experienced website developer understands best practices and can advise you as to the most user-friendly configuration. When designing a new website, make sure that you do not just receive a wireframe or PDF mockup of the graphics and navigation menu. Your site should be placed on a live platform where you can get a good feel of how the navigation system will function and can make tweaks as necessary before it is launched. Zola Creative provides all clients with a fully functioning site on our production server during the development process to ensure that clients get a clear vision of the site as a whole, not just the graphics.
Make Sure the Menu Can Be Changed
With some website platforms, once a page has been added to the menu, it can be cumbersome to move things around. When deciding on the best host for your website, make sure that you have the ability to update the menu of your website through the content management system. If you don’t have this capability, you’ll likely encounter a major headache and expense should you need to update things down the road. At Zola Creative, we’re proud to offer law firms access to our comprehensive Site Manager which allows for easy removal of pages from the menu or the addition of new entries.