With a few exceptions, the university website uses consistent site-wide global and local navigation systems, adhering to navigational guidelines established by information architecture leaders. This consistency is important since users of the World Wide Web cite getting lost on websites as one of their greatest frustrations with Web surfing.
Consistent navigation systems throughout the public website ensure that once a visitor learns how to navigate one section of www.apu.edu, that individual can navigate within any other section without difficulty, and every page visited reinforces the growing understanding about how the website works.
Azusa Pacific University’s global and local navigation systems help attain the following standards:
- Two-click access to all major sections of the website
- Three-click access to most individual pages from any other page
- Maximum of five clicks to any content page from any other page on www.apu.edu (most links can be accomplished in three or four clicks)
APU’s navigation systems are not perfect, and the Web development team continually seeks ways to improve them. The current systems reflect research, competitive analysis, formal and informal user-testing, and adoption of established industry best-practices. All constructive input or feedback is appreciated and will be taken into consideration.
Official department or office webpages that are part of the public university website should include the standard global navigation, unchanged, at the top of each page to enable easy navigation to the APU home page, the search engine, and the categorized directory pages. Students interested in information about one department or office are likely to be interested in information about other services APU has to offer, and these navigation tools help facilitate such connections.
Unofficial and personal webpages should not incorporate the standard APU global navigation. Without the global navigation, personal/unofficial pages are distinguishable from official sources of information. Links to APU’s home page and other pages on www.apu.edu can connect these pages to the university website.
Communicating Current Location
A key aspect of effective website navigation is communicating to webpage visitors what page they are on and to what website or section it is related. On APU’s website, those tasks are handled in the following manner:
The header graphics, appearing just below the global navigation links, communicate that a page is part of the APU website, and the section or subsite in which this page resides. The APU logo, located in the top left corner and linked to APU’s home page, depicts the former and a heading graphic with the name of the office, department, or service represented by the section, within which specifies the latter. The logo should be clearly presented following logo-use standards (Web-friendly versions are available upon request), and the section/subsite heading should be well-designed, following professional typography standards (University Relations can design custom headers for departments managing their own websites or working with outside vendors). Use of photos or abstract graphics is acceptable as part of the section heading and to the right of the heading, provided they are appropriate for the subject and do not interfere with the readability of the heading.
Consistency of size and placement of the header helps provide visitors with a comfortable, congruent experience and reinforces a sense of professionalism and commitment to excellence. Although there are exceptions, APU website style uses four header sizes to reinforce varying purposes of different pages:
- The APU home page, directory pages, start pages, and subsite hub pages all use a larger size (600 x 90 pixels), as they share a primarily navigational purpose.
- Most content pages use a header sized 600 x 60 pixels, large enough to communicate clearly and attractively, yet still a relatively small download size.
- Pages that provide utilities, applications, and website-related information services use a smaller header, 600 x 45 pixels.
- Pop-up windows and other custom-purpose pages use headers of varying sizes, usually smaller, designed on a case-by-case basis to provide balance and clarity to the page.
Page Titles and Meta-Tags
Page titling and meta-tag formulas ensure good placement in search engine listings and are intuitive when seen in bookmark lists and search engine results.
Page Title Graphics and Title Tag
Identification of the contents/purpose of an individual page is accomplished with the page title graphic appearing below the header. Most pages use the common style for this graphic. The text of a page title graphic should closely match the corresponding menu item on the local navigation menu, although it may expand upon a name that has been shortened for effective use on the menu. Avoid abbreviations in page titles and links, where possible.