Your links and navigation serve a very important function: to connect your users with the info they need. Web users are on a mission. By providing easy navigation choices and clear content links you set them up for success.
Keep Your Menus Short
Menus should be 8 items or less (deeper menus may be longer). Fewer choices allow the reader to follow a clear path to the information they need. Avoid the temptation to place too much in your menu — try organizing your menus by task, topic or audience.
Match the Menu Link to the Page Title
Click on "Admission" and you should get to a page titled "Admission," not "Getting In" or "Forms & Applications." There is more latitude with links in the body of the text, but the relevance between the name of the link and the page it links to should be readily apparent.
Use Clear Wording in the Navigation
A clever but obscure link name can be confusing and even frustrating, and may hurt your searchability. When possible, shorten your menu link text — users should be able to glance at your menu and know which item to click. Creating menu links that are long and wordy can hinder this process.
Do Not Link to Files Directly in Your Menus
If the content is appropriate to include in your menu, it's probably best to create it as a page (or section of pages) in your site — including the content on a webpage is always a more mobile friendly and accessible option. If the content must remain as a PDF or other file type, either include it as a link on a page, or perhaps as a Related Link in the right column.
The file or page name in Cascade becomes part of the URL for that asset. Keep these simple, descriptive and evergreen. You can separate words with dashes, if desired, but do not include spaces. Learn more about the impact of readable URLs on searchability.
Hyperlink Phrases — Do Not Use "Click Here"
Phrases are easier to spot on the page, but should be descriptive. To meet accessibility guidelines descriptive phrases are crucial — for those using screen readers, hearing "link click here" is frustrating at best. Search engines also key in on hyperlinked text to improve their results — don't miss the opportunity to highlight valuable keywords.
Alert Visitors When Linking to a Document
When linking to documents, indicate the file type after the link. For example, links to a PDF or Word document should appear like this: Sample Document (pdf) or Another Sample Document (doc). Whenever possible, convert documents to PDFs — or better yet, move the content to a webpage to improve accessibility.
Open Links in the Same Window (Some Exceptions)
Always open internal links in the same window — the default behavior in Cascade. The standard practice for www.wm.edu is to open all links in the same tab, unless the visitor experience is improved by opening a link in a new window. For school sites, contact your Cascade Manager for the preferred behavior.
Display Parent and Siblings in the Menu When Appropriate
Menu items help users to successfully navigate your site. We recommend displaying parent and sibling folders with the following exceptions:
- turn off the parent when it duplicates the site name displayed on the banner image
- turn off the necessary parent and/or siblings to help separate stand-alone sub-sites