• bbmatt1

    This reads like it was written in 1996. Navigation is based on current task at hand, everything else should be out of the way. Navigation should be a narrative. Navigation should be based on importance and should be adaptive. Navigation should be goal based. Screw menu systems except for the primary links. Any site with drop-downs is a FAIL. Navigation should be based on measured metrics and A/B testing. … STRUTH!

    I’ve read your ‘Read before commenting’ section and this is a *very* constructive comment, so please bear it in mind.

    I challenge you to imagine a scenario where you are willing to trawl through a complex navigation system, regardless of how well planned out it is, to find something.

    It’s conclusively proven, through years of analytics, that this is *not* how people discover content on a website.

    Yes, you will need ‘the small print’ on websites – and indeed, many websites have a depth of content to be discovered. That is what search is for, and inline links. Take the user on a journey, entice them. If you want a user to discover what you are selling, promoting, presenting, choose your narratives and place them on the *landing* page. On key subpages, context sensitive ‘Call to Actions’ should be used.

    NOBODY uses complex navigational menus, except the people who created the content. It’s vanity to assume your audience is going to drill through reams of links. They won’t. It’s so hard to convey context in a three word link!

    Over and out.

  • sharithurow

    1996? I beg to differ. I and my colleagues have performed many, many site navigation usability tests since then…too many heuristic reviews to count…and we keep coming up with these fundamental navigation problems over and over again.

    Hence the reason for me writing the article.

    With all due respect, findability, as information architecture guru Peter Morville defines it, consists of browsing, searching, and asking. If any website owner ‘forces’ search onto users? That’s just poor usability. Users like to have control over how they locate and discover content.

    Navigation should provide context – global, local, and contextual. And those 3 forms of navigation should actually support site search. I don’t see very many websites do that well.

    Inline links, I believe, is what Morville and Rosenfeld refer to as contextual navigation. For one of my dissertations, I identified over 30 types of contextual links, when to use them, and how to format them. At the time, there were 30; there are many more than that.

    I have “trawled” through many complex navigation systems…and I have fixed them so that content is more easily found by searching, browsing, and asking. So have many of my information architecture colleagues.

    Nowhere in this article did I state to “use complex navigational menus.” Where did you see me suggest that? None of my clients and colleagues have ever heard that recommendation come from me. Heck, even my mother knows I would never recommend that. [grin]

    Analytics data do not reveal the information most site owners need about navigation. If you want to learn users’ mental models about how they organize and locate content? Card-sort tests and tree tests are usually the best option.

    Thank you for your feedback. I do, respectfully, disagree with your comments. I suggest you learn more about card-sort tests. It might change your perspective.