Web navigation

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Web navigation refers to the process of navigating a network of information resources in the World Wide Web, which is organized as hypertext or hypermedia.[1] The user interface that is used to do so is called a web browser.[2]

A central theme in web design is the development of a web navigation interface that maximizes usability.

A website overall navigational scheme includes several navigational pieces such as global, local, supplemental, and contextual navigation; all of these are vital aspects of the broad topic of web navigation.[3] Hierarchical navigation systems are vital as well since it is the primary navigation system. It allows for the user to navigate within the site using levels alone, which is often seen as restricting and requires additional navigation systems to better structure the website.[4] The global navigation of a website, as another segment of web navigation, serves as the outline and template in order to achieve an easy maneuver for the users accessing the site, while local navigation is often used to help the users within a specific section of the site.[3] All these navigational pieces fall under the categories of various types of web navigation, allowing for further development and for more efficient experiences upon visiting a webpage.


Web navigation came about with the introduction of the World Wide Web in 1989, when Tim Berners-Lee invented it.[5] Once the World Wide Web was available, web navigation increasingly became a major aspect and role in jobs and everyday lives. With one-third of the world’s population now using the internet, web navigation maintains a global use in today's ever evolving international society.[6] Web navigation is not restricted to just computers, either, as mobile phones and tablets have added avenues for access to the ever-growing information on the web today. The most recent wave of technology which has affected web navigation is the introduction and growth of the smartphone. Web navigation has evolved from a restricted action, to something that many people across the world now do on a daily basis.[7]

Types of web navigation[edit]

The use of website navigation tools allow for a website's visitors to experience the site with the most efficiency and the least incompetence. A website navigation system is analogous to a road map which enables webpage visitors to explore and discover different areas and information contained within the website.[8]

There are many different types of website navigation:

Hierarchical website navigation[edit]

The structure of the website navigation is built from general to specific. This provides a clear, simple path to all the web pages from anywhere on the website.

Global website navigation[edit]

Global website navigation shows the top level sections/pages of the website. It is available on each page and lists the main content sections/pages of the website.

Local website navigation[edit]

Local navigation is the links within the text of a given web page, linking to other pages within the website.[8]

Styles of web navigation[edit]

Web navigations vary in styles between different website as well as within a certain site. The availability of different navigational styles allows for the information in the website to be delivered easily and directly. This also differentiates between categories and the sites themselves to indicate what the vital information is and to enable the users access to more information and facts discussed within the website. Across the globe, different cultures prefer certain styles for web navigations, allowing for a more enjoyable and functional experience as navigational styles expand and differentiate.

Design of web navigation[edit]

What makes Web design navigation difficult to work with is that it can be so versatile. Navigation varies in design through the presence of a few main pages in comparison to multi-level architecture. Content can also vary between logged-in users and logged-out users and more. Because navigation has so many differences between websites, there are no set guidelines or to-do lists for organizing navigation. Designing navigation is all about using good information architecture, and expressing the model or concept of information used in activities requiring explicit details of complex systems.[12][13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Lowe, David; Gaedke, Martin (18 July 2005). Web Engineering. Springer. ISBN 9783540279969.
  2. ^ Anderson, Corin; Domingos, Pedro; Weld, Daniel. "Relational Markov Models and their Application to Adaptive Web Navigation" (PDF). University of Washington.
  3. ^ a b Doss, Glen. "Designing Effective Web Navigation" (PDF). Towns University, Center for Applied Information Technology. Retrieved 23 December 2014.
  4. ^ Bezerra, Edmara Cavalcanti. "Design and Navigation" (PDF). University of Texas, EDC385G Interactive Multimedia Design & Production. Retrieved 24 February 2014.
  5. ^ "History of the Web". World Wide Web Foundation.
  6. ^ Maya Shwayder (24 September 2012). "One-Third Of World's Population Using Internet, Developing Nations Showing Biggest Gains". International Business Times.
  7. ^ Malegam, Farhad (February 6, 2022). "Optimising Website to Improve Customer Experience".
  8. ^ a b "Website Navigation". webpagemistakes.ca.
  9. ^ "Navigation Bar: Explanations and Samples". Dropdown Menu Generator. Retrieved 2021-02-11.
  10. ^ "What is a 'flyout' menu?". pcreview.co.uk.
  11. ^ HTML 4 for dummies, 5th edition, 2005, By Ed Tittel, Mary C. Burmeister, p. 96.
  12. ^ "Web Design Navigation Showcases – Smashing Magazine". Smashing Magazine.
  13. ^ Jones, Henry. "30 Examples of Clean and Minimal Website Navigation". Retrieved 12 March 2014.

Further reading[edit]