Help for Church Webmasters

Issue 14                                                                               07/05/02

 

Interesting Navigation Schemes

 

 

In the last newsletter, I shared with you why I think it is not a good idea to use Rollovers in your navigation scheme. Those reasons include that it is too slow, the user knows when their mouse is over a button, and there are more interesting things to do with rollovers that will make your site unique. I also promised that we would talk about more interesting navigation schemes in this newsletter.

 

Before we do that we should consider what these “more interesting” navigation schemes will do to us.

  1. Most of these navigation schemes use javascript. They are very easy to use, so you don’t have to be a javascript expert to use them on your site, but there are effects.
    1. Some of the people who visit your site might have javascript turned off and won’t see anything. That’s a bummer.
    2. Search engines don’t follow javascript links very well (if at all). Of course search engine technology is changing all the time and this might be fixed eventually. But for now this is an issue because you definitely want search engines to be able to index your entire site!
    3. Blind people and other handicapped people who are using special technology (like screen readers) will find javascript menus VERY difficult to navigate.
  2. A few menu systems use flash or shockwave instead of javascript. But they face the same limitations as javascript.

 

A natural question is, with all these limitations, why would anyone use these techniques? It turns out that all these problems are easily overcome with one solution. A site map. Every page in your site will have a link (probably at the bottom page) to a plain html page that has the links for every page in your site. Very simple, very easy to maintain. But that simple page will allow search engines and users who don’t have the required technology to navigate your site. Sweet.

 

I am going to share some site where you can get your own nifty navigation system. It’s a personal decision as to which one you want to use. But you should consider this. Some of these javascripts require certain things. Things like a framed site (you know how I feel about those) or a certain browser and version (usually IE). While IE certainly does own the majority of the market, there is a new Netscape available. If AOL (who owns Netscape) decides to make that their default browser – A LOT more people will be using Netscape. So make sure that your navigation system will work in all current browsers and that it doesn’t have a limitation you don’t like (frames for example).

 

 

This site has a bunch of menus. A few are free, most you pay for. http://www.imint.com/index.html There are some really good examples and ideas here.

 

This site has links to many different javascript menus. http://freewarejava.com/applets/menus.shtml Be sure to check them out before you use these.

 

This is a fun one that I used on page that I developed for another church. http://popup.jscentral.com/ It is reasonably priced and works pretty well too. It has some unique features that are kind of fun (it moves down the page as you scroll down).

 

These are just a few examples of what you can do.  But I think if you save your rollovers for things on your site instead of the navigation and use one of these javascripts to spruce up you navigation that you will have an interesting site that people will want to visit.

 

 

 

 

See ya,

 

Bill

 

 

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the fine print… 

 

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It would be way cool if you could mention this resource somewhere on your webpage! You can link to “Help for Church Webmasters” at http://www.downeychurch.com/HelpForChurchWebmasters.html