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Navigation types

Different kinds of navigation

There are lots of different approaches to guiding users through a website. This section explains some of the most common forms of website navigation, along with their relative advantages and disadvantages.

Content Curator is capable of generating any variation on the navigation structures described here. Please don't hesitate to contact Surface Impression LTD to discuss what navitaion structure would work best for your project.

Most kinds of navigation tend to be variations on these basic themes:

Flat navigation

Flat navigation
An example of a 'flat' navigation - doesn't expand (well, apart from the last point, 'more' ...) - © Google

A 'flat' navigation structure consists purely of a list of main points, without sub-points. This is effective if your website is relatively small, but can become cumbersome if it includes lots of pages (the danger being that the list just gets longer and longer).

Flat navigations can be displayed horizontally or vertically.

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Expanding navigation

Expanding navigation
An 'expanding' navigation - © BBC

An 'expanding' navigation structure consists of a list of main points, which may also lead to sub-points. Depending on the nature and complexity of the website, these points, may in turn contain further sub-points and so on.

An 'expanding' navigation is inherently vertical. When the user clicks on a main point, it's sub points become visible directly below it, expanding the list.

Expanding navigation structures can be effective for dealing with large amounts of pages, but run the risk of becoming somewhat labyrinthine when the site uses several levels, with subsections of subsections, of subsections etc ...!

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L-shaped navigation

L-shaped navigation
An 'L-shaped' navigation - © YouTube

An 'L-shaped' navigation structure consists of a list of main points, usually positioned horizontally at the top of the screen. When the user clicks on one of these main points, its sub-points are displayed in a vertical menu, typically in a column on the left hand side of the screen.

L-shaped navigation structures can be effective, but need careful attention to design. It is important that the user sees the connection between the two separate parts of the navigation.

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Roll-over navigation

Roll-over navigation
A 'roll-over' navigation, expanding from the left - © Amazon

A 'roll-over' navigation structure consists of a list of main points, usually positioned either horizontally at the top of the screen or vertically on the left hand side of the screen . When the user positions the mouse over one of these main points, its sub-points are displayed next to it. These appear as if on a transparent layer, overlapping the content of the page. When the user 'rolls' the mouse off the navigation point, the sub-points disappear (hence the term 'roll-over').

Roll-over navigation structures often appear modern and interactive at first glance, but can be fiddly for the user (imagine your parents or grandparents trying to use a roll-over navigation for the first time and you will get the idea...). It takes a great deal of thought and planning to make a roll-over navigation both usable and accessible.

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