Navigation That Works (964 words)
If you have a good deal of offline traffic, include a quick order section in the action bar. Other action bar items include a free catalog, Web specials, clearance or overstock, and new items. In most cases, you should stay away from non-selling items such as "about our company" in the action bar. Additionally, it's critical that your action bar items be visible without the viewer having to roll over the type. While rollovers make things look neat, they usually don't work—especially in the action bar.
Above your top navigation, you need an aggressive, benefits-oriented header. The purpose of the header is to set the tone of your site visually. In your header, you need to have your logo, a tagline about who you are and what you do, a memorable visual, and your toll-free phone number.
If you're an e-commerce site, you also need to highlight your perpetual cart, preferably at the right-hand side. The perpetual cart should, at the very least, list the number of items in the cart, the cart total and a shopping guarantee.
Bottom navigation is a regurgitation of the three to five items listed at the top as well as links to a site map, privacy statement, contact information and customer bill of rights.
Your contact information includes your logo, a five- to seven-word tagline about your business and what you do, address, phone and fax numbers, URL, e-mail address, and any applicable copyright information.
Not only does your bottom navigation reinforce your branding and help "close" the page, but it's especially important with sophisticated users as approximately a quarter of them work from the bottom up.
Your left-hand navigation tells the user what's in your "store" and how to get around. At the top of your left-hand bar, ask them to sign up for a free e-mail or newsletter.