Home > Articles > Web Development

This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

Using Navigation

Site navigation includes all the links that a user can click to move from page to page in your Web site. Navigation should be easy to understand and apparent to the visitor without being overwhelming. Nothing can be more confusing to a site visitor than having to search for the navigation links of a site, having links whose purposes are not clearly identifiable, or having an overwhelming number of menu navigation links. Useful and effective sites have consistent and helpful navigation as a central element of their design. Navigation should make it easy and pleasant for your users to find the information they came to your site to find. Site navigation should be central to the structure and design of your site from the beginning. As your site develops, the demands on its navigation will grow, so it is important that this be designed in a thoughtful way.

The default home page for your site may contain many navigation elements. These could include the following:

  • Top menu
  • Side menus
  • Pagination
  • Linked article titles in the Latest News and Most Popular modules
  • "Read more" links
  • Links inside of articles
  • Links in the footer
  • Links connected to the buttons in the Login and Polls modules

All these links manage how your users move around your site. As you develop your site, you should always be considering how the addition of new content or features should relate to your navigation. By looking at the front page of a Joomla! site that has the sample data installed, you can see all the different areas that contain navigation from the list noted earlier. Figure 7.2 shows the front page of a Joomla! site with sample data and the Milkyway template.

Figure 7.2

Figure 7.2 Home page of a Joomla! Web site with sample data installed demonstrating navigation

The most important thing you can do in designing your navigation is to imagine yourself in the role of your users. If you have several different groups of users, you need carry out this process for each of them. What do they want to find when they come to your site? What words do they use to describe those things? Ideally you will talk to users, but at a minimum try to imagine yourself as a member of each group. Web designers will often talk about how many clicks on links it takes to get to a specific piece of information. The more clicks it takes to find something, the more likely it is that the user will abandon the task of looking for something without completing it. You want the number of clicks to be as small as possible. Visitors should stay on your site because they are finding useful and interesting content, not because they have to spend a lot of time finding what they are looking for.

You should follow a number of principles.

  • Make sure that it is easy for people to get to the home page. The first link on your main navigation should be to the home page. If there is a logo on the top of the page, clicking it should send users to the home page.
  • Provide "you are here" information for every page to help users know where they are. This doesn't necessarily have to be "breadcrumbs," which are a series of text links like the default Joomla! breadcrumb module. Your visitor should have some sort of cue as to the section or area of the site they are currently visiting.
  • Remember that people entering your site via a search engine will often not be entering from the home page, especially if you have a large number of your site pages indexed.
  • Never use only an image as a link with no text to indicate what it links to. No matter how obvious you think the image's meaning is, it will not be obvious to some of your visitors.
  • Don't require users to use their mouse or keyboard to discover key information. Users will be frustrated if forced to hover over an item in order to obtain important information. An example of this would be forcing the user to hover over an image to trigger navigational links.
  • Use standard terms for items, not cute short forms, acronyms, or organizationally specific terms that are understood only by yourself or your team.
  • Use meaningful terms in your text to convey your message.

In Joomla! the main navigation is usually controlled through menus and menu modules. The menu system is perhaps the most important part of your Joomla! site besides the actual content because it controls four elements:

  • What template is used when a linked page is displayed
  • What modules are displayed on the linked page
  • How content is laid out
  • The URL of the page, which relates to search engine results as described earlier in this section

In Chapter 3, we covered how to assign a template to a menu item and how to create menu items for content. In Chapter 5, we reviewed the other types of menu items available in the core. The menu items themselves along with the parameter options you select control how the article is laid out. The menu item alias controls the search-engine-friendly URL for the page linked.

The Menu module, working in conjunction with the CSS in your template, controls the appearance of the menus on your site. Each time you create a new menu, a corresponding module is automatically created. You may want multiple copies of some menu modules, and you may want several separate menus, as illustrated in the sample data.

The Menu module works like all other modules. It has some important options that can help you manage your site navigation effectively. For example, in the sample data in your Joomla! installation, you will notice that the main menu has a link called Joomla! Overview. As you can see in Figure 7.3, the default main menu in the sample data shows a simple list of links. Figure 7.4 demonstrates what happens when you click Joomla! Overview; a submenu with a new link appears.

Figure 7.3

Figure 7.3 Default main menu that is set up in the sample data showing the menu item Joomla! Overview

Figure 7.4

Figure 7.4 Default main menu showing a child menu item that is revealed after clicking a parent menu item

This is one of many ways the flexibility of the Menu module can be used to make the navigation of your site more usable. In this way, you can have a longer menu that is not overwhelming to site visitors.

You set up a menu that utilizes showing child menu items (such as What's New in Joomla! 1.5 in this example) after you click. Follow these steps:

  1. Create a menu item and then make that new menu item a child of an existing menu item, which is called the parent item, as demonstrated in Figure 7.5, which shows the What's New in 1.5? menu item editing screen.
    Figure 7.5

    Figure 7.5 What's New in 1.5? menu item editing screen showing the selection of Joomla! Overview as the parent item of the menu item

  2. In the Menu Manager, identify a child menu of a parent because of the display. Figure 7.6 demonstrates how What's New in 1.5? as a child of Joomla! Overview, which is the parent item.
    Figure 7.6

    Figure 7.6 Main menu's Menu Manager screen demonstrating the What's New in 1.5? menu item as a child of Joomla! Overview, which is a parent item

To set up the module to show child menu items only upon the click of a parent menu item, follow these steps:

  1. In your Menu module, set the first and last levels to 0, as shown in Figure 7.7.
    Figure 7.7

    Figure 7.7 Main menu module editing screen showing how to set the values for Start, End, and Sub-Menu settings

  2. Set Always show submenu Items to No, as shown in Figure 7.7.

One way to get visitors to browse your site in depth is to have clear and simple navigation that then expands to show more options as they navigate pages. This can be done by showing new navigation menu items that are pertinent only to the page a visitor is currently browsing. Joomla! has a great way to do that using Menu modules via the split menu technique of showing second-level and beyond menu items only on pages to which they are assigned.

To set up a split menu, follow these steps:

  1. Make a copy of the Main Menu module as in Figure 7.8.
    Figure 7.8

    Figure 7.8 Module Manager screen showing how to copy the Main Menu module

  2. You will now have a module named Copy of Main Menu. Click the name to open the copy. As in Figure 7.9, enable the module, set the title to show, set the Start Level option to 1, and set the End Level option to 1.
  3. Because you only want this menu module to show when the Joomla! Overview menu item is clicked, assign it just to the Joomla! Overview menu link, as shown in Figure 7.9.
    Figure 7.9

    Figure 7.9 Module-editing screen showing how to set a menu module to show a split menu

  4. Open the original Main Menu module, and change End Level to 1, as in Figure 7.10.
    Figure 7.10

    Figure 7.10 Module-editing screen showing how to set the Main Menu module to not show child items

Now when you click Joomla! Overview in the front end of the site, a second menu will appear with just the relevant submenu showing as a separate menu module, as shown in Figure 7.11.

Figure 7.11

Figure 7.11 Front-end view of how a split menu displays

If you have submenus for all your main menu items and want to use the split menu technique, you should assign the module used for the split menu to all the relevant parent menu items.

There are many options for enhanced menus available in the Joomla! Extensions Directory. Usability research has shown that many complex menus with excessive reliance on drop-downs and special effects can make your site more difficult for visitors, so use any special effects in moderation and for good reasons.

InformIT Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from InformIT and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information

To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.


Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites, develop new products and services, conduct educational research and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.


If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@informit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information

Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by InformIT. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.informit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information

Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents

California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure

Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact

Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice

We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020