Lee Gomes has written an article in Forbes today discussing how Google could make Web site design and navigation obsolete.
The article makes a valid point which a lot of designers forget – most visitors from Google probably won’t arrive at the homepage. They arrive at one of the internal pages instead.
because of search engines, users end up never encountering that home page or availing themselves of the careful arrangement of the site’s material.
Instead, they’re taken directly to the inside page that has the specific material they are looking for. And once they find what they’re looking for, they’re off somewhere else.
So far so good but I disagree with the next part.
What that means, says Jerry Sheehan of the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology, is that Web developers shouldn’t sweat the details of how a site is pieced together, since Google will only end up hiding a lot of that work from many, if not most, Web users.
The fundamental issue is that a web user who arrives on an internal page is either going to leave the site, buy a product directly from the page or visit some other pages – the homepage being the most popular one. The big test of a websites navigation and architecture is whether the user who lands on a particular page and then browses round the site can ever find that original page again.
If your navigation doesn’t allow people to find all your pages easily from your homepage then visitors will leave in frustration.
So good navigation and design are just as important as ever.