Navigation and menus

How will people move around your website?

About navigation

Navigation is the term used to describe how people will move around your website. If your site has poor navigation visitors will probably leave before they find the information they want. If your site has good navigation it will encourage your visitors to explore your site for more information.

Main navigation

Once you have organised your information and have a plan showing how the content will be structured in your website it should become apparent how pages will link together. Knowing this will help you to make some decisions about where links will be needed - links are your site's main navigation tool. 

Remember when organising your information that the folder structure you decide to use will help to determine whether the navigation for your site is good or not.

Also try to think about what the visitor will need to know next and provide links to any related information that would be useful. You should bear in mind that consistency is important as it will help visitors as they move around your site. 

Sub-navigation

Sub-navigation can help people get to areas that aren't covered by the main navigation i.e. it can provide links to the lower levels of your site and maybe provide external links to related sites. Sub-navigation may differ from page to page, but again a consistent approach will make navigation easier. 

The 'breadcrumb' trail

Every page in the Plone CMS has a horizontal bar at the top with the words ‘You are here:’ on the left hand side. This is the 'breadcrumb' trail and as a visitor moves into the lower level areas of your site it will expand to show them where they are:

Screenshot of breadcrumb trail

The words in this menu are links and can be used to jump back up a level. If there are only a few links in your navigation the 'breadcrumb' trail can be used to move around your site.

The 'Navigation' menu

Every page in the Plone CMS has a 'Navigation' menu which, by default, appears on the left hand side of the screen. Initially the items listed in this menu will appear in the same order that you have added items, i.e. folders or pages. To improve the navigation of your site it may be necessary to change this order, please refer to Reordering content

The Navigation menu also allows visitors to see what information is available on your site.

Reducing the Size of Menus

Ideally your Navigation menu and any sub-menus should have no more than seven or eight items. If a folder has many more items - for example, if you have a 'staff' folder with a page for each of your 30 staff - you can reduce the size of the menu by excluding items from the navigation.