I attended the UEdoneright.com workshop put on by Habaneros Consulting from Vancouver. Overall the workshop was very helpful and included information on User Experience but there were other topics that were discussed. By far the most interesting for me was reviewing the different types of navigation. Ben Skelton lead the conversation for us. In Ben’s talk we discussed the embedded navigation systems and the supplemental navigation systems.
Below I outline the different types of navigation with examples of each.
Embedded Navigation is navigation that we see generally in all websites. Each systems generally solves a problem but at the same time creates its own set of problems for both the designer and the user.
Global (site-wide) navigation
This is the navigation that is usually found along the top and left hand side of the main wrapper of the website. It flows thorough out the site and encompasses all the pages. It is usually arranged by topic or in some sort of categorization. This navigation offers direct access to the key areas of the website. The downfall to this type of system is that it forces difficult decisions to be made by the organization. These decisions can be easier if the organization has in depth knowledge of their users’ needs and goals, while on the website.
An example of hierarchical navigation:
Contextual navigation supports associative learning and allows a place for the pages to live which may or may not fit into the structure that was developed for the site wide navigation. A purpose for these links maybe to inform users of a new product they may not have been aware of. Contextual navigation, generally comes in the form of links within the content . Contextual navigation also promotes the ability to show the users that your website is interconnected. A problem that comes with using this method is that usability testing shows that users generally scan the page and tend to skip over these links. Contextual navigation would also include see also links, recommended reading, and related documents.
Examples of contextual navigation:
Local navigation is really just the navigation one level underneath the site-wide navigation.
An example of local navigation:
Supplemental Navigation includes site maps, search and indexes. Supplemental navigation gives you a back up to embedded navigation systems. As usability shows the embedded navigation will fail a percent of your users.
Faceted navigation is very useful in a document heavy website where you want users to quickly get to the documents or items they need. The idea behind it is that the user will start in for example, “shoes” and then refine it to “black shoes” and then size 6. Faceted navigation is really a different way of showing advanced search.
Example sites with faceted navigation:
Transaction trail is much like the checkout process in an online store. Users can navigate back and forth through the process by the steps shown. The transaction trail is like another way of describing bread crumbs.
I will be looking at other navigation systems in a future post.