Navigating a Website is Different than a Magazine

One of the most common challenges we see publishers have when starting to embrace a content-centric website as part of their digital strategy is the differences between how someone enjoys a magazine and the ways in which people navigate a website.

Everyone knows how to read a magazine, there are three general approaches but all are intuitive, tactile and simpe:

  1. Skim
  2. Read cover-to-cover
  3. Use the table of contents

The web on the other hand isn’t nearly as intuitive because information is asynchronous, that is, not naturally explored. The good news is that there are more ways to discover information online and a thoughtful linking structure allows the reader to browse, aka surfing the web, in a natural way.

Use the non-linear nature of the web to your advantage. Remember to use coherent calls to action and consistent graphical elements to consistently engage readers on your website.

Quick tip, think of navigation and information architecture as a document outline. Start broad and get increasingly granular as you continue indenting. Moreover, if your website is a content site the main navigation should be limited to content of similar hierarchical value. Any links related to your media kit, print edition, and the like should go somewhere else. Likewise, your nav bar should not include granular information it should all be categorical with more specific topics or content linked elsewhere.

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