Navigation Labeling

Navigation Labels

A navigation label represents a chunk of content. For example, the label “Contact us” usually represents the name, phone number, fax number, address, and email address of the organization in which you would like to “contact.” This label should trigger the association in the user’s mind. It is best when navigation labels are “action-oriented,” in other words they compel the user to act on something.

Poor navigation labeling, or even worse, “cute link names” undermine any value that your site has to offer, so it is important to get it right. Navigation structure is a part of Information Architecture and should be tested on real users before finalized. Some tips on improving labeling include:

Be Consistent

  • Use a similar style, syntax, and tone on all the navigation labels across your site.
  • Ensure the presentation of labels doesn’t change radically across the site.
  • Keep the navigational elements in the same position on all pages.

Use Your Users’ Language

  • Avoid organizational or technical jargon.
  • Use labels that reflect the language of the target audience.

Use Conventions

  • Investigate what other agencies in other states are doing. Where widespread conventions exist, use them.
  • Always provide a “Home” link.
  • Utilize bread crumb navigation on every screen below the home page.

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