Usability in Practice - Strategies For Designing Application Navigation
Navigation Is a Metaphor
Why Users Get Confused
Group Multiple Pages into Logical Sections
Create a Frame
Use Navigational Aids
THE SOFTWARE VIEW
Copying the Big Guys
UX Design Patterns
Clear Entry Points
Testing, Tracking, and Tweaking
- When you navigate from section to section where do you land? It depends on the flow you are trying to achieve. In most cases the least confusing option would be to land the user on the first page of the section (for example, Page A in the diagram) on the first visit of the session. You might design that page as an entryway to a section (that is a section "home" page). Then I'd retain the state of the sidebar menu so that if the user left the section and returned, he or she would be on the same page.
- What if you need to get from (for example) Page B to Page G?
- Minimize the effort required to understand and make decisions about navigational choices. The less effort it takes to use the UI, the better usability.
- Make use of single-screen designs when you can. Use rich, multipane controls, pop-ups, and wizards to enable the user to perform as much of the task as possible without resorting to sideways navigation.
- As you create multiple pages, combine them into sections. Make it simple to jump from section to section with a main navigational control and use a secondary control to navigate within the sections. Try not to go deeper if you can avoid it. The simpler the navigation, the more quickly users will achieve proficiency.
- Make certain that key elements such as menus, titles, and other information that is displayed on all pages are presented consistently from a visual standpoint. The user should have the sense that some elements of the screen are stable and be able to use them to maintain orientation.
- Be very careful with navigational elements that transport users from the interior page of one section to the interior page of another. It can be done, but it's easy to disorient the user.
- Use secondary navigation aids such as breadcrumbs and site maps but do not rely on them.
- 7.Always think about future expansion. If you expect the product to incorporate new functionality in the future, decide in the beginning how you will expand the navigation to seamlessly incorporate new screens.