A successful website will convey the information a user is looking for in an easy to use format. The key to designing a website that offers information in an easily navigable manner, is to identify specific, critical action points. Develop your website to drive users to these action points.
You can also identify common entry and exit points and utilize those to recycle users through the website. The key is to develop your website from a users perspective, not a webmasters.
The Action Point
An action point is where you want to drive your users. These are areas where a user will interact with the site, or obtain desired information. To find out what your site's action points are, ask yourself what it is that you want users to do upon visiting your site and rank these by priority. Many times you will have a number of action points on your site. Action points should generally be high profile links on your website, but to avoid navigation clutter refrain from having too many links.
The Entry Point
The entry point is like the lobby of your website. From the entry point users should have clear paths to any action points on your site. The entry is actually the first action point on your site. From here you want to direct users towards other relevant areas. Sometimes a site may have alternate entry points, particularly if a user is referred from a search engine. It is important that you address these situations so you can treat each entry point appropriately. The easiest way to deal with this is to provide users with a common navigation system that is consistent on every page of your site.
The Exit Point
The exit point is the area where users commonly leave your site. Generally you will find that exit points also relate directly to action points. Realizing common exit points is important. Once you know where users are leaving, you can provide links to other action points in order to keep them on site. This is an excellent opportunity to place banner advertising or other higher profile links to other action points of related interest. If done successfully, you have the ability to drive visitors from point to point within your site, and keep them interested by offering relevant material.
By respecting exit and action points, and developing your navigation around these points, you allow visitors easy access to the key areas on your website. This will also prevent users from getting lost on the way to their destination.
Remember, above all else, think like your users. No amount of flash and style will save your site if a user can't find what they want.
A site can only be successfull when visitors actually find it. To help get a better ranking in search engines, make sure you develop a list of keywords that get included within your pages. This will improve your search engine ranking.
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