Although users typically arrive at doc websites in a confused and impatient state, not sure of where to find what they're looking for, good navigation can guide them to the right answer. Good navigation anticipates users' needs, provides links in commonly viewed places, and brings the right topic into the foreground amid hundreds of other topics.
As you build out the navigation for your doc site, follow these best practices:
Use the doc homepage as a routing portal to let users choose the right doc set. Think of the home page as a train station with various terminals for departure.
Include a navigation sidebar that contains a hierarchical representation of a group of topics. Right-size the group so that it's not too massive, nor too small, but rather provides meaningful at-a-glance context at a defined scope.
Provide breadcrumbs above your topic titles that show the path to the topics. Assume that users may not arrive at the topic in the way you expect, and they will appreciate the context that breadcrumb provides.
Provide abundant inline links in your sentences that help users navigate directly within the field of vision. Freely infuse links into phrases, words, or other parts of the sentence without always listing out the full title of the cross-reference.
At the beginning of topics, add contextual links to orient the user. At the end, add next-steps links to guide the user's next decision. For sequences or tutorials spanning multiple pages, add workflow maps to make the user's progress in the sequence clear.