Part of course:
- How do people navigate web sites?
- Why do we need Navigation?
- How to design Navigation?
- How to design Search?
- How to know if you did a good job with the navigation: The trunk test
If you wanted to buy a chainsaw from a hardware store, imagine how you would go about doing this— you can either look through the store: there are aisles with department names on top, and within a department, there are signs at the end of each aisle; or you can find the nearest clerk and just ask them where they keep their chainsaws. It could be a mixture of the two as well — you may try to navigate a bit to see how easy it is, and if you don't find what you're looking for, you may ask a clerk. This has very strong parallels with how people use web sites: which brings us to two most important components: the Navigation, and the Search.
Unlike our hardware store example, a website is not a physical space. This presents a few problems that make having good navigation necessary:
Hence, when we want to return to something on a Website, instead of relying on a physical sense of where it is, we have to remember where it is in the conceptual hierarchy and then retrace our steps. This makes the home page, and a link to home page on navigation on every page extremely important — it's the fixed north star that the users can return to if they get lost. In addition, navigation can tell us what's in the website and how to use the site.
Persistent navigation is the set of navigation elements that appear on every page, except maybe the home page and forms. They follow certain conventions, and unless we have a very strong reason not to, we should stick to them. Conventionally, a web page has the following:
Remember, one of the most crucial elements of navigation is a link to Homepage. This is usually served by the Site ID (logo). Make sure it's not clickable on the Home itself, since it's never a good idea to link to the same page.
Very simply, make the search box a simple box with no options, but allow limiting the scope of the search on the page of results. Also, if scoping a search, add the word "for" so it reads like a sentence: "Search ___ for ___."
If you've been blindfolded and locked in the trunk of a car, and then dumped on a page somewhere deep in your website, are you able to answer these questions without hesitation:
In the next tutorial, we will see how to design a good Homepage.