Designing navigation

People won't use your Web site if they can't find their way around it.

  • You're usually trying to find something.
  • You decide whether to ask first (typing a description of what you're looking for in a search box) or browse first.
  • If you choose to browse, you make your way through a hierarchy, using signs to guide you.
  • Eventually, if you can't find what you're looking for, you'll leave.

Two of the purposes of navigation are fairly obvious: to help us find whatever it is we're looking for and to tell us where we are.

Important navigation functions:

  • It tell us what's here.
  • It tell us how to use the site.
  • It give us confidence in the people who built it.

The trunk test

Imagine that you've been blindfolded and locked in the trunk of a car, then driven around for a while and dumped on a page somewhere deep in the bowels of a Web site. If the page is well designed, when your vision clears you should be able to answer these questions without hesitation:

  • What site is this? (Site ID)
  • What page am I on? (Page name)
  • What are the major sections of this site? (Sections)
  • What are my options at this level? (Local navigation)
  • Where am I in the scheme of things? ("You are here" indicatos)
  • How can I search?

Based on the Steve Krug's book "Don't make me think".