The Hidden Logic Behind Navigation Options
- AuthorAndrew Gray
Most large websites have three types of navigation:
- Header-navigation which is the same on all pages of the site - these are usually simple drop-down menus with options presented in a single vertical list but sometime they can be mega menus (with more options presented in a block of parallel columns).
- Section-navigation which is designed to provide the user with the options most relevant to the page they are on
- Footer-navigation which often replicates links presented in the header-navigation but in a more condensed form and usually also includes links to other important pages such as "sitemap" and "legal disclaimer".
Some sites also provide:
- Related-content which some sites use to offer the user links which are NOT part of the current section but may yet be of interest
- Crumb trail-navgation rarely necessary but some sites use this to remind the user where they are
You can consider your sitemap to be a hierarchical list of:
- top-level sections (which appear in the top menu bar)
- ...and sometimes even sub-sub-sub-sections!
There is no special logic behind header-navigation or footer-navigation because it is the same on all pages, but there is special logic for section-navigation - on most websites that logic looks like this:
- if the section you click on has children then show the children (i.e. the sub-sections below)
- if the section clicked has no children then show brothers/sisters (i.e. the sections at the same level)
- Claims against Professionals has not sub-sections so the section-navigation on this page shows brothers and sisters
- but Employment & HR has sub-sections so that is what the user sees (rather than brothers and sisters)
...this logic is so intuitive that the user usually doesn't appreciate that it's happening!