It's important that vistiors to your site can move around it easily and find the information they want. It's normal to provide structured lists of options (menus) which allow people to do this.
Common layouts include...
- having the main options across the top of the screen (usually underneath a banner reinforcing the site's identity), with any sub options for the selected main option shown down the left hand side;
- having all the menu options down the left hand side, with some indenting device to show sub-options for the section the user is in;
- a single block of drop-down / fly-out / shake-it-all-about menus... a method favoured by some content management systems because it's easy to implement. (But see the notes on Accessibility.)
Additionally, general links such as 'contact us' and 'site map' are often placed in the footer or in some other convenient location (right hand side, for example). The phone version of your site should have simple expandable menus covering all important options, available at the top of the page.
Devising a structure
A typical website for a church may only need two levels of 'depth' for its menu structure, perhaps extending to three levels in places. Four levels ought to be enough for anything: if you think you need more, take a good hard look at your planned structure.
The 'flatter' (or if you prefer, 'shallower') the menu structure, the quicker it is for users to find their way round.
If you find your planned structure has lots of menus with only two options on, ask yourself if you can redesign it to make it flatter.
At the other extreme, there are practical limits to the length of menus. Any menu which is displayed horizontally will have particular constraints associated with the width of the screen. And if a single menu or sub-menu can't be displayed in a typical browser window without scrolling, look for ways to split it up.
Keep menu titles as succinct as possible, consistent with being understood.
If you have trouble devising a menu structure for your site that is clear and logical for visitors to grasp and explore, you can supplement the menu by putting helpful cross-links in the page content to 'field' visitors who may head down the wrong path.
Site maps are very useful for web researchers and search engines, and for anyone who is, for whatever reason, unable to follow the impeccable logic of your church website's menu structure.
On a small church website, a full keyword search shouldn't really be necessary. If you use a 3rd party keyword search add-on, check the terms carefully, and make sure that the service won't, for example, display any extra baggage (other links or adverts) on your search results pages. Also, if you're using a "full" search facility, make sure that it really is full - that it searches PDFs as well as web pages, for example.
Last updated: April 2017