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Forms: Forms for navigation

Sometimes, web developers use forms as a user interface for navigating the website.

This application is regularly found with lists that every visitor can rank according to his or her preference. This application is also used to give the visitor the option of navigating between several frequently visited pages. However, this method has a few major disadvantages. The disadvantages, as well as the possibilities of doing something about them, are addressed in this section.

Forms for navigation do not relate to search engine forms; search engines are supplementary to the regular navigation of the site. Their function is to help visitors search for information, not to navigate through this information. Search machines have their own issues; see Accessibility of form results and Enhanced usability of forms.

Automatic redirection by selection menus

People often come across navigation forms that make use of a selection menu. As soon as the visitor makes a selection from the list, he is automatically redirected to another location. For users who depend on their keyboard this may prove to be a problem. Depending on the technique that is being operated, the script can be executed as soon as the first option is selected. Web developers should test their site for their behaviour.

Navigation forms for script-less visitors and search spiders

If their browsers fail to support client-side scripts, visitors will be confronted with a form that does not work. Search spiders will ignore the navigation form. Navigation forms should therefore never be the only way of accessing information. Read more

Web Guidelines version 1.3, November 2007.