To make menus and links simpler you have to think like a customer. You also have to reduce the number of links and focus on the task at hand.

If you visit the BBC homepage and choose "Sport" you are brought to a page about sport. Just sport. The critical first screen is all about sport. No links to news or weather or business. Just sport. If you click on Football you arrive at a page that's just about Football. Just Football. Not cricket. Not rugby. Not golf. Just football. If you click on "Premier League" you get to a page dedicated to the Premier League.

This is not web design. It's web management. It's about eliminating all choices that are not connected with the customer's current task, which in the above example might be: Find out the latest news about the Premier League.

Some time ago, if you looked at BBC pages you would have found a common navigation going across the top of them: Home, News, Sport, Radio, etc. Not so anymore. The BBC has a clearer, simpler, more focused set of pages. Focused on the task at hand, rather than the task that might be.

Web teams are often plagued by what-if exception-based navigation design thinking. "What if the person on the Premier League page is in India and really wants to know if Drop Dead Gorgeous is on tonight?" Well, tough. They're going to have to go back to the homepage.

Web teams need to toughen up. They need to make tough decisions. Putting every piece of content you have on your website serves nobody but confuses and annoys everybody. I've often heard customers say: "Yeah, it's on the website alright. Just try finding it!" Cluttering your pages with lots and lots of links that are worded with organization-centric language (jargon, tool names, branding terms) is truly terrible design and management. Placing irrelevant or distracting cross-links sends people in the wrong direction, wastes their time and increases their frustration.

Remember the Amazon pages some years back? They had lots of links at the top of the page that followed you around the site. Links like: Kitchen, Software, Electronics. Doesn't happen today. You just get one big link near the top right-hand corner: "Shop All Departments." The more you drill down through the site, the more the navigation focuses. It focuses, based on the decisions you have made, to point you forward. So, if you're in "Bathroom Accessories" the links are for: Bathroom Mirrors, Bathtub Accessories, Scales, etc.

One of the most common and most confusing forms of navigation around is the one that brings previous levels with it as you drill down. SAP is just one of the companies that uses this approach. Let's say you click on Solutions and keep clicking down until you get to "SAP ERP Features and Functions: End-User Service Delivery." If you scan down the left navigation, you will see a link for "Services." If you click on that link you don't get more on ERP-related services, but rather you get sent to the homepage for SAP overall services.

Menus and links need to be designed in the context of the task the customer is trying to complete. That means stripping away higher-level options and creating links that point forward based on the task at hand.