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Designing Useful Navigation

May 5, 2001
  |  9,836 views

Not much has changed in the year since Jakob Nielson wrote, "Most sites have miserable information architectures that mirror the way the company internally thinks about the content and not the way users think about the content. Predictably, users ignore such unhelpful structure." Typically, they ignore by bailing, pronto.

Want to employ useful navigation that helps your customers shop and moves them ever closer to the close? Then design your site the way your customer thinks, so your site anticipates the way your customers want to interact with your "store." And remember the three cardinal rules: keep it simple, make it intuitive and be consistent.

Turns out, it isn't all that difficult to figure out what your customers probably want to do when they get to your site. Studies demonstrate people search for and gather information in fairly predictable ways. And navigation has a very simple role to play. It orients the customer by letting him know where he is, and it directs by letting him know where he can go as well as how to get back.

BASIC HUMAN BEHAVIOR

· A “user experience” consultancy reported, “39 percent of test shoppers failed in their buying attempts because sites were too difficult to navigate. The potential benefit of improving a website's usability is staggering.”


· To optimize your site, you need to recognize users are task-oriented, or "goal-driven." They pursue what they are looking for rather single-mindedly, and even when they are browsing, they browse within a narrow field.

· "Users rarely look at logos, mission statements, slogans, or any other elements they consider fluff."

· "If a page does not appear relevant to the user's current goal, then the user will ruthlessly click the Back button after two or three seconds."


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