Navigation design and how it affects writing for the web
At the Nielsen Norman workshop at London Usability Week 2010 we discovered that navigation design impacts on information architecture in interesting ways, which in turn affects copy…
- Banner blindness applies to navigation too – avoid images in nav bars, and make sure linking boxes are mostly text and are similar in design to other nav items. Putting similar products/upsells/accessories on the right makes for instant banner blindness.
- Make sure your navigation caters for deep linking – one good method is to start by designing the navigation on lower-level pages.
- Keep your main menu in secure areas (checkout, etc) – don’t remove it (if customers want to leave, removing the nav won’t stop them), but do change the design slightly to reassure customers that it is a different part of the site.
- Don’t use horizontal drop-downs from your top nav (unless they’re wide “mega-dropdowns”) – they take too much motor skill for almost anyone.
- To avoid “filler copy”, don’t put children in the sidebar – ie don’t list a page’s subpages in the left-hand navigation. People often miss them and get stuck, and it means you often have nothing worthwhile to put in the page body. The left-hand nav is for the page’s siblings (the pages on the same level in the sitemap).
- Indicate clearly which section a user is in – rely on size and bold more than colour, as many people are colour blind to some extent.
- Always provide an alternative to flash navigation – eg if you have a Flash filmstrip of product types, provide normal links as well (a mega-footer is good for this)
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