4 Reasons to Use CSS-Based Navigation

Navigational structure is one of the most crucial aspects of effective website design. Navigational bars/menus are frequently key design elements that help to create the look and feel of a website through color, typography, shape, and sometimes images.

While the appearance of the navigational menu can make or break a design, the usability of the site should not suffer in order to accomplish a specific look. Ideally, the navigation should be attractive and compliment the look of the site rather than overpower the rest of the site and take focus away from the content.

Unfortunately, many websites still use outdated navigational methods that take away from the usability of the website. If images are relied on heavily for navigational purposes the site may be inaccessible to users with disabilities or to users who surf with images turned off. However, that doesn’t mean that navigational menus have to be plain and simple-looking in order to remain accessible.

The benefits of using CSS for navigational menus include:

1. Lightweight Code

The combination of CSS and HTML create navigational menus that are much lighter weight (much less code) than similar navigation menus that would be created with JavaScript or images (CSS can be used in combination with images to retain all the benefits of a CSS menu with less weight than a menu strictly based on images). Lighter weight code is easier for search engines to index and it creates pages that load faster for visitors.

2. Accessibility

CSS-based navigation is accessible and usable for all visitors. If a user is surfing with images and/or CSS turned off, the navigation will be usable as a bulleted list. The small percentage of visitors using older browsers that do not support CSS will also be able to use the navigation.

3. Unlimited Design Options

Using CSS for your navigational bar does not mean that you will be limited in your design. In fact, CSS menus offer as much or more flexibility as other navigational options. When CSS is used with background images just about any look is possible to achieve. (To see some of the variety of CSS-based navigation menus, visit CSS galleries like CSS Vault and CSS Beauty.)

4. Plenty of Scripts Available

If you do not want to create your own CSS-based menu from scratch, there are plenty of free scripts available for use. Using a free script does not necessarily mean that you will have the same navigational menu as hundreds or thousands of other websites. Any menu can be customized and adapted (color, size, font, background image, etc.) to match the look and feel of your website. Some of the best free CSS menus can be found at:

Vandelay Website Design
Exploding Boy
Dynamic Drive
CSS Vault
CSS Showcase
Razvan’s Nerve

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