All About Navigation and the User

Site Navigation: A Few Helpful Definitions is a terrific and insightful recent article by Indi Young of Adaptive Path that looks at some basics of global navigation—is yours primary, utility, or footer navigation? Do you have all three? And does it make sense to users? She provides good examples with pictures to match. Pictures speak a thousand words in this case, too!

Faucet Facets: A few best practices for designing multifaceted navigation systems is another good one on navigation at Adaptive Path. Jeffrey Veen writes about how to best help users find the content they want—easy, right? It can be if it’s thought out based on the user. Following a specific hierarchy may not always be the best solution, and he uses dishwashers and hotel reservations as real world and insightful examples of what works well and what can be problematic.

The central theme in both of the above is to develop user-based navigation. I happen to agree with that approach. Some clients may not be aware of that idea, though. I’ve had clients want to set up their site based on their office files or how their office departments are organized; however, that particular organization may not work for website content organization. Sometimes the way they’re organized doesn’t really work well for their offices, but that’s another story, and I’ll stick to web design for now.

As a web designer and developer, we can offer a fresh perspective to content organization based on user needs for the Web. This fresh perspective may or may not jive with their office files or departments. As I was writing this I was also looking through Adaptive Path’s archives and came across an article on this by Peter Merholz, The Pendulum Returns: Unifying the Online Presence of Decentralized Organizations. As Peter states, “the paramount concern of any website must be what its users seek to accomplish.” His article explains all this in more detail, including charts and graphs.

When people come to me to design a website for them, a big part of my job is to figure out how to best organize their website content for their users. Once that’s established I can then create the site architecture and develop a workable navigation system. With that in place I can then create the design and overall site development.

Book cover - The Art and Science of Web Design, by Jeffrey VeenSo when I read books by Jeffrey Veen or articles at Adaptive Path I guess it’s no wonder that I happen to like what they write—it resonates with me that user-centered design is critical to a site’s success.

09:41 am, pst19 November, 2002 Comments, Trackbacks (1) ·';}?>

Categories: Accessibility, Books, Information Architecture, Usability


Comments, Trackbacks: 1 so far. Add yours!

  1. Hi,

    Thanks for the links to the nav stuff!

    I am a novice web designer who is learning fast!

    I also found this useful article on website navigation, which may be of interest to your readers:

    The Dos and Don'ts of Website Navigation.


    07:29 am, pdt23 June, 2004Comment by Sheila Whyte

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