Photo courtesy of x-ray delta one.
Imagine that you’re casually surfing the Internet one day. You come upon a web site that looks very polished. It’s so nice looking that it could probably be entered into an art show and win a number of awards. After a minute or so, you get bored and decide you want to see what the site offers. You start to look around for a button to click.
“Hmm… is that funny looking circle a button?”
“No. Let’s try this square with all those spiky things coming off of it.”
“Shoot, that doesn’t work either!”
“Oh, lets try this triangle. At least it changes to a word when I hover over it.”
What you just experienced is a term web designers call “mystery meat navigation”. It is a very bad thing to have on your site. Repeat this five times:
“I will never use mystery meat navigation no matter how cool, funny, witty, or mysterious I think I’m being by placing it there.”
Users will get confused. Users will get mad. Ultimately, users will leave your site. It takes enough effort to get a person to your web site in the first place, don’t give them a reason to leave so quickly. Instead, make your site as easy as possible to navigate. Make sure every navigation element is labeled clearly. When you link to something, it is also advisable to keep your links underlined. Savvy users may know what a link that highlights yellow or appears to have a dotted line under it means, but non-nerds will have no clue.
So, in closing, follow the K.I.S.S. principle of “Keep It Stupid Simple” and your site will be golden.