|To gain a better understanding of this type of guided visitor behavior see the linear navigation diagram below.|
Linear navigation diagram
The mechanics of linear navigation
The graphic diagram above shows how a linear navigation scheme is linked. As you can see each page of content is designed to link directly to another in a pattern that is determined by the webmaster. This can take the form of building up an idea or progressing toward the purchase of a product. But, keep in mind that your visitor can opt-out at any time by using their browser buttons so keep each page brief and to the point. Express your point of view clearly on each page and avoid boring your visitor with unnecessary verbage or graphic distractions.
Linear navigation is used any time that you want your visitor to follow a bread crumb trail, or train-of-thought, through your website content. This type of navigation establishes a predefined path through your site that can be used to promote a product or idea. By using this method you can direct your visitors step-by-step or page-by-page toward whatever goal you have in mind.
Arrange your webpage links in such a manner that they only permit movement in a straight line from one page to another. By doing this you are setting up the basic layout of your website in such a way as to compel the visitor to start at one end and continue to a conclusion. This is straight line (i.e. linear) navigation.
Reciprocal linking and linear navigation
Sometimes you might want your visitor to view a thread of information in a linear fashion with the option of back clicking. This is where reciprocal linking works well. Below is a diagram that explains how this is done.
Linear reciprocal navigation diagram
Reciprocal navigation, just like linear navigation, follows a straight line through a website. But, it allows the visitor to move back and forth between a series of pages of content. To do this set-up your links with a start page an end page and provide reciprocal links that tie the intermediate pages together. This method of navigation will keep your visitor in one area of your website until they decide to opt out. Basically this is how a web browser works. The back and forward buttons in the toolbar perform this reciprocal function. You can move forward or back in your browser window but always in a straight line.