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Navigation modelling

Navigation modelling :: 1 of 1

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The navigation model for a website should evolve, in at least some significant sense, in parallel with its taxonomy (which is represented visually by some form of network diagram such as a sitemap or spider diagram) and the wireframes.

Getting the navigation model right for a site is very important, although increasingly site visitors are using (and sites are providing) much better search functionality, meaning that huge, and detailed layers of navigation are being seen less and less often.

And of course there is the school of thought that says if you have a really good search facility, you don't need navigation at all. Deconstruct tried it on their site. It was just irritating...

Much more interesting - at least to me - is the recent rise of models that combine the navigation and search metaphors, in for example faceted browsing navigtion models; and those sites that dispense with hierarchy of any kind and turn to serendipity instead.

Traditional model

Faceted browsing model Other models

A "traditional" navigation model is based upon a prior and fixed content classification or taxonomy.

Typically, such a model will the folowing kinds of navigation options:

  • Main navigation - comprising primary, secondary and tertiary navigation in some form of prominent menu bar usually placed either across the top of the page, or down either the left-hand side or right-hand side
  • Contextual navigation - good contextual navigation supports browsing by association and non-linear information retreival. It can take many forms: graphical promos, in-text hyperlinks, "next" and "previous" links, context-specific menus, and so on
  • Utilities navigation - this is commonly the necessary (but often rather dull) navigation options that appear at the top and the bottom of pages, e.g legal notices, credits, terms and conditions, and so on. Links for the sitemap and contact us are often classed as utilities

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