Cyber tips & tricks--mysteries of site navigation

With every new website you visit, do you need to learn how to navigate de novo? Of course not—we all know many features common across websites: menus, footers, headers or mastheads, a Contact Us page, or an About Us page…  Standard elements are found on virtually all websites and make navigation easier.  

There are other, more subtle elements that have also become standard. Familiarity with these other seemingly less known elements can take some of the mystery out of website navigation. Here are a few we will review – these are tips for computers, not phones or tablets:

  • Web mastheads often link back to the home page of the site
  • How to recognize links
  • How to make text larger on websites, for better readability
  • Breadcrumbs—what they are and what they are used for
  • A trick to quickly return to the top of a page

Web mastheads, or headers

Did you know that the UMRA website header (see header image) links to the UMRA home page? This is done on nearly every website you visit.  Returning to the home page by clicking on the masthead is a quick and easy way to reorient yourself on a website after getting lost in a maze of links; or if you just want to start over on the home page. Whatever page of the website you are on, the website header is usually present, providing a quick link back to the home page. If you’re not sure it goes to the home page, click on it to see.

UMRA website headerUMRA website masthead


On the UMRA site, you can also get to the home page by clicking on the little Home icon on the top menu (see Home icon image).

Is there a link?  Where does it go?


Which raises another question—how do I know if there is a link associated with an image or text? Commonly, of course, you know that if text is underlined, it is a link. But sometimes links are not underlined. Often, as on the UMRA site, article titles are links—they link to the article. Sometimes images even link to something. A quick and easy way to tell if there is a link is to hold your cursor over the area in question—no clicking, just hover.  (Recall these tips are for computers, not mobile devices.) If there is a link, your cursor will change to a hand, or another icon, instead of the normal arrow shape (see cursor image). 

Show link -- lower left corner of screen

You can even find out where the link goes to—hold your cursor over the linked area, and you will see a link appear in the lower left corner of your monitor screen. For example, if you hold your cursor over the UMRA masthead, in the lower left corner of your computer screen (not phones, or tablets) you will see (UMRA link image) “”  This is a handy way to see where a link will take you—if the URL looks wrong, it could be taking you to a phishing site.

Making web text larger

Is the text too small to read comfortably? Simply use the keyboard shortcut: Ctrl-+ (for PCs), or Cmd-+ (for Macintosh). This will make text in all browser windows larger. You can press the + key multiple times, while holding the Ctrl (or Cmd) key, to increase the text to the size you want. 

  • Ctrl-+ means you hold the Control key while also pressing the key having the + symbol. This works for PCs.  
  • For Macintosh, hold the Command key (or the Apple key if you don’t have a Command key) while also pressing the key with the + symbol.

To restore the text to the previous size, press the Ctrl- (minus) key (or Cmd-(minus) key) as needed, and the text will get smaller. 

Or if you use Chrome as your browser, you can select “View→Zoom In” on the browser menu to enlarge text, and “View→Zoom Out” to make text smaller.

Why are there breadcrumbs on my webpage?

Just as Hansel and Gretel left a trail of breadcrumbs to mark where they had been, and help them find their way home, webpage breadcrumbs (see breadcrumbs image) give you your location relative to the home page. They don’t show all the pages you’ve visited, as Hansel & Gretel’s crumbs would, but they can help you find your way. (Hover your cursor over the breadcrumbs on the UMRA website, and you can see where each one links to, using the earlier tip.)  They usually show pages above the page you are on, in the menu hierarchy.

Return to Top of Page

Return to top

This trick can be especially useful on the UMRA Annual Calendar. The calendar page is quite long and as you scroll down, you can get pretty far from the top. 

On the calendar page, as on many other pages of our UMRA site, many UMN sites in general, and other websites, you will see “Back to Top” links (see Back to top image). On the UMRA site, it is in the lower right side of your screen, moving as you scroll. Clicking on it zips you to the top of the page in one quick swoosh!

Look for these tricks the next time you visit your favorite websites.

-- Cathy Lee Gierke and Kathy Jensen