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Choosing a method for creating a navigation bar

To decide what type of navigation bar would work best for your site, consider the following:

What level of structural or graphical complexity do you want your site to have?
What type of Internet access will visitors to your site be using?
What are your strongest skills or interests in Web development?

Text-only navigation bar
Do you want a navigation bar that's simple and straightforward, with little visual elaboration? Do you expect visitors to your site to be using low-speed modems, or browsers that do not support JavaScript? Do you want navigation structures that are easy to create, with no rollovers, and no graphics files to prepare?

Make a text-only navigation bar with Macromedia Dreamweaver for a navigation structure that's easy to create and download. A text-only navigation bar–a row of text links arranged horizontally or vertically on a page–doesn't require any work in an image-editing or illustration program. It is minimal in file size and downloads almost instantaneously regardless of your visitor's Internet connection configuration. In addition, text-only navigation bars are fully visible and functional in nongraphical browsers.

Graphical navigation bar with rollovers
Do you want your site to have graphical navigation features that give it a distinctive appearance and provide enhanced visual cues to help visitors find what they're looking for? Do you expect your visitors to have high-speed modems or even faster connections for downloading moderate-sized graphics without difficulty? Do you expect your visitors to use browsers that support JavaScript? Are you interested in creating button graphics from scanned or original images?

To create a navigation bar from original button graphics that you can easily turn into rollover states, use Macromedia Fireworks. Fireworks creates the necessary rollover JavaScript, which assigns the appropriate mouse event (such as rolling over or clicking) and displays the associated graphic. You can also create effects such as glows and shadows using Fireworks Live Effects. You can optimize the original images in a Web-ready file format (GIF or JPEG) and export the optimized images and HTML code for placement directly into a Dreamweaver document, all without having to write any HTML code yourself.

Note: You can also create a graphical navigation bar with rollovers in Dreamweaver, using images you import from an image-editing application. If you want a navigation bar that needs to be customized to open files in another window or frame on your site, for example, consider creating a graphical navigation bar in Dreamweaver.

Animated navigation bar
Are you interested in creating site navigation that is even more dynamic than static-image button rollovers, provides animated feedback to visitors' input, and takes greater advantage of the Web's visual capabilities? Do you expect your visitors to have the capacity to download and display complex graphics? Are you interested in working with advanced animation features that can be displayed with little HTML code?

To create a navigation bar in which a mouse event triggers the display of an animated version of a navigation button, use Macromedia Flash. Flash enables you to create special animation effects, such as animations that overlap one another in the navigation bar or continue to play after the triggering mouse event has ended. Such animation effects are relatively simple to create in Flash, but are far more complicated or even impossible to create using HTML code or JavaScript.

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