Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Navigation Design (Part 2)

Navigation design guidelines (continued...)
  1. Keep the navigational elements consistent across the website: Make sure that all the links & navigational elements are kept consistently on the same place as there have been anywhere else, in terms of links, styles, etc. User can find them easily anywhere in the site.

  2. Design it to ‘load fast’: Do all your design & development by considering a user having low-speed internet connections. Make sure that your all your site HTML, CSS, Flash components (if any) loads faster, so that users do not get bothered by the in-essential time it takes to load the whole stuff.

  3. Quality as against to Quantity: Internet users like minimum options & clicks to get the desired information. CREATE sub-sections & sub-categories to help the user to “navigate easily & locate the required content easily & quickly”.

  4. Browser-Compatibility: There is multi-browser application environment. Do compatibility tests for your website before it goes live on major browsers like “MS Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Netscape Navigator, and Opera” & check if the look & feel as well functionality of JavaScript used in the site is working well.

  5. No un-essential stuff in the navigation: Non-core Information like “Privacy Policy, Terms of use, even Contact Us (in most cases)” should not bein the main navigation & can be placed in the “bottom menus” zone.

Navigation Design (Part 1)

Navigation plays a 'core' role' in case of any kind of product development, whether a corporate website, a portal or an intra-net application that's designed to cater internal as well as external users based on certain security policies.

These guidelines are basically for those sites who wants to deliver a "usable" interface, unlike graphics & animation rich websites who are visually appealing but sometimes lacks ease of use, due to unclear navigation systems.

Following are the few points which serve as a generic guideline while designing a navigation.
  1. Navigation Placement: Make sure that the navigation is placed at an easily visible location, so that the users don’t have to“guess” or “search” for it.

  2. Place important things on high: Keep the important things on the top area of the page, preferably in the first half of the page. Such significant information should get displayed first to the user.

  3. Banner Blindness: Make sure that you don’t put any content above the ad. Banners as users are tend to ignore all the content that’s displayed above ad banners. Make sure especially that navigation is not placed above such banners, as ‘navigation’ is very important & should not be ‘lost’.

  4. Avoid being unconventional: Designing website navigation in an ‘unconventional’ way to make the site stand out from the crowd is NOT a good method of navigation design. It becomes difficult for the users who are now quite used to the general web design practices of designs, navigations & such other generic functionalities.

  5. Home link should always be there: Homepage being core of any website, a back-link to the homepage should always be there. Also, it is very much possible that user might have landed up on your website through some search engine or have come directly to your sub-page / inner page, a “home“ link always helps them to come back to the homepage of your website.