Usability and Navigation: How to Make it Work - Don't be afraid...
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Don't be afraid of creating multileveled menus. It's better to break the content into the smaller blocks and create sub menus instead of filling your pages with tons of information. If you have a long list of products in the store matching a particular search criteria, it would be very nice to allow customer to choose whether he wants to see all items on one page or divide the list into fractions, for example, 10, 20, or 50 items on one page, and design a search result page according to this module.
Regarding online stores it's a very good practice is to show some important information about the product like size and price in the search result, and then to allow visitor to view a page with a bigger image and a full description of the product. When it comes to a complicated or multileveled structure of your content, especially when search comes in place, it's very important to have a comprehensive system of links, because when you lead a customer to more than 2 steps deep from the first page, he may easily forget where he came from and how to get there.
Besides a classic visual highlighting a menu item to show the whole tree of a menu structure, which is visible on each page of a website, there is a great solution which does not require an appearance of menu tree: paths. It's a line somewhere on top of the page, which contains the whole path your customer has made from the index page. For example, he is now in the section Womens apparel, sub section Tops, another subsection Cotton on a page showing a White Short Sleeve T-shirt. The path will look this way: Womens Apparel: Tops: Cotton: White Short Sleeve T-shirt. All items in the path have to link to their parent sections, so a customer always one click away from every section he passed reaching the document he's looking at, and one look away from understanding where he is, how he got there, and how he can get back.
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