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Put Every Page on a Menu

  • Whenever you create a new HTML page, put it on a menu. This helps users better navigate your site.

    We refer to pages that do not appear on a menu as orphans. As a web maintainer, you need to avoid having orphans on your site, in part because pages that do not appear on a menu are more difficult for users to find.

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    More broadly, orphaned pages degrade our navigation system as a whole. Web navigation always needs to answer two basic questions:

    1. Where am I?

    2. Where can I go?

    Effective web navigation needs to answer these questions on every page in a consistent way. On IUP’s website, menus show users where they are by highlighting their current page (see the diagram to the right).

    When a page is not on the menu, no highlight appears, and the question “where am I?” goes unanswered. When the highlight appears on some pages and not on others, we end up with an inconsistent navigation system and it becomes harder for users to navigate our site.

    Put every HTML page on a menu.


    There are a only a few exceptions:

    1. News items: Navigation for news items is handled in the page, via the monthly archives, topics, and recent posts visible on the right side of the news page.
    2. Non-HTML content: Do not put PDF, Word, PowerPoint, or other documents on the menu. These items are not pages, and putting them on the menu breaks our navigation conventions. (And, because we can’t repeat this often enough: always post your content as HTML rather than as a document, unless there is a compelling reason to use a different format.)
    3. Pages on other websites: Our website navigation menus are for the IUP website. If you need to link to a different website, do that in the body of the page. Placing links to other websites breaks our navigation conventions.