Article: Web Navigation Is About Moving Forward

Jared Spool

May 23rd, 2006

UIEtips 5/23/06: Web Navigation Is About Moving Forward

Is your web site chaos? Do users have trouble finding their content? We often hear from designers that they have hundreds or thousands of pages, completely without organization or structure. Putting the customer at the very heart of the design process is easy to talk about but incredibly difficult to do well.

This week’s UIEtips article, written by Gerry McGovern, deals with creating a web navigation that successfully helps users move forward through your site. In the article, Gerry discusses how your site’s navigation should focus on keeping users going in the direction they have chosen.

We’re also very excited that Gerry will once again be presenting at the User Interface 11 Conference this October. Gerry is the expert we turn to about content management issues. He has spent the last ten years consulting exclusively on issues pertaining to information architecture and content management systems. Gerry’s seminar is always one of our highest rated sessions, so I highly recommend you check it out.

If you’re thinking about Gerry’s seminar (or any of the other great sessions at User Interface 11), you definitely want to sign up by June 20th to take advantage of the great pricing we now have — plus receive a free set of the conference proceedings.

What navigation approaches do you use in your organization? We’d love to know.

Read the article here.

4 Responses to “Article: Web Navigation Is About Moving Forward”

  1. Jim Everett Says:

    The two websites I use – one for my business, the other for my photography, both embody a common principle. Both of these contain a lot of content, and I want to allow the visitor to either find what they want quickly, or to stay explore and just take a look around.

    So I have tried to put navigational elements on each page that pretty much allow a visitor to get anywhere from anywhere. On some of the pages I have tried to create a simple “visual gulp”, but pack dense information behind the interface, using rollovers and popups.

    Visitord to the photo gallery site at http://www.jamesgordongallery.com often tell me they choose to stay longer than they planned, simply because they enjoy being there. BTW, It is about to lose the splash page (pretty but not necessary), and have a new home page.

    Thanks Jared for your best tip of all times – if it does not add, remove it.

    Jim

  2. Kelly Brooks Says:

    It’s interesting, after sitting at Jared’s courses at CHI2006, and he discussed The Scent, I have a whole new respect for the theory of forward navigation.

    This is incredibly important from a marketing perspective. If you understand your users, then you should understand their chosen paths through a site or vice versa. Eventually, you should be able to determine a marketing profile for each sector of your user group based on their paths or develop a path based on marketing profiles of your web users. If your user is moving forward through the site well, because you have arranged the navigation in the logical sequence that each particular user is looking for, then you should be able to cater to all groups who visit your site by providing them with very clear and forward navigation paths. Eventually, each user path should have very clear landing pages where you can sell or inform based on their marketing profile.

    It’s a beautiful thing and maybe for once, your webstats package might make sense!

  3. Jamie Says:

    I’m not sure that I would agree with the whole “forward moving” approach. When I reach a new website, I like to saunter around and discover–sort of like being at a party and sampling a little bit of everything. I like to be able to visit the salads, then the cheeses, then maybe a dessert, then maybe the crackers, back to the salads, then maybe the meats, and so on. If I decide to visit the cheese table, I don’t want to feel like I’m being funnelled into a narrov “V” pattern. I need to feel that I can “escape” from the current web page (because I’ve learned everything I need or it’s not what I wanted) and jump back a few pages to something that interested me.

    To continue with the analogy in your article, a major highway continuously advises whether you’re still on the I-95 heading south (or north, etc.). Drivers like to make pitstops or sometimes explore, but once they’re back on the road, they need the comfort of knowing that yes, Boston is ahead and New York is behind.

    Jamie Bridge

  4. Yuri Says:

    Looks like an analogy to your “Scent of Information”, though.
    It all come down to giving the visitors what they want, the faster and easier, the better – everyone’s just putting this in their own words.

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