Don’t Overwhelm the User with Ancillary Content
This is perhaps a design decision, not a usability decision. However, it bears mentioning that the current trend in Web design is to cram as much stuff on one page as possible. Resist this trend. You do not have to have links to every single page from every other page. This is just evidence of a poorly planned Web site.
Early in the development of a site, plan a logical, coherent information architecture so your users are presented with an intuitive set of links from each page. Trying to read text saturated with hundreds of hyperlinks and fragments of text in the sidebars is akin to trying to read a book in a room full of six-year-olds stoned on Pepsi and Pixie Sticks. Strive to maximize content of every page. While some space must be given to ancillary information, branding, and navigation, don’t let them overshadow the actual reason people came to the Web page in the first place.
Have a Link to the Home Page on Every Interior Page
This is almost the most obvious directive in Web design – the user should always be able to get home from any page. And if you have a logo in the top left corner of your site (or the top right, or where ever, really), it needs to link back to your home page or you’re likely to have a lot of confused users on your hands. This has become a de facto standard of Web sites, and you need to support it.
Support “URL Butchering”
Here’s a method that I’ve used frequently when browsing the Web, but never understood its implication for Web development until Jakob’s book pointed it out. In fact, the phrase “URL butchering” comes directly from the book.
Consider the following URL
You need to ensure that every “directory stop” in this URL is supported by a directory page that lists the resources “below” that URL. If the user isn’t finding the desired content wants at this URL, he or she may start “butchering” it in an attempt to find the right resource – chopping off the file name and then walking up the directory tree. This means that the following URLs…
…must give the user a page that may help him or her, even if these URLs are not explicitly linked to from anywhere in your site. For instance, the first URL above should have a list of all the articles about European politics. The second URL should have a list of the different geographic regions covered. The third URL should have a list of the different article categories.
The last thing you want is for a user to get a raw listing of the files in a directory (which is a security hole in addition to just being annoying) or the message “Directory Listing Denied.” Just because you don’t have an explicit link to one of these URLs, don’t assume that a frustrated user won’t find their own way of getting there. Before publishing a page, check its URL and be sure you have index pages at every directory stop all the way back to the home page.