Links & Navigation
Get them where they need to go.
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.
A menu link should always match the title of the page to which it points.
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 straightforward 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 PDFs or other 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 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.
Keep your file and page names clean — don't use spaces.
The file or page name in Cascade forms the URL for that asset. Using spaces will result in hard to read URLs — if your system name is about us, the URL will read www.wm.edu/about%20us. Learn more about the impact of readable URLs on searchability.
Hyperlink phrases rather than single words. Do not use "here" or "click here."
Phrases are easier to spot, 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 key words.
Alert visitors when links will lead them to a document instead of a web page.
When linking to documents, indicate such 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.
Open internal links in the same window. Evaluate your options for external links.
Always open internal links in the same tab — 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 tab.
Display parent and siblings in your menus 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