Navigation design: twins and minimalism

For a great many tasks, there are two dominant journeys or paths that customers would like to take. Consider the following tasks:
• Download the latest firmware for the RV042 router.
• Find the waiting times for Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services.
• What is the lowest price service for a 2015 Prius Active?
• Did more people die of heart attacks in Canada than in France in 2010?

People tend to think about the above type of tasks in two ways:
1. From an Object point of view
2. From a Subject point of view

Download the latest firmware for the RV042 router.
• Object: I want to get to the RV042 homepage then look for the firmware to download
• Subject: I want to get to the download software section and then look for the RV042

Find the costs for Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services.
• Object: I want to find the Child and Adolescent Mental Health homepage and then look for costs information.
• Subject: I want to go to the costs section and then look for Child and Adolescent Mental Health services.

What is the lowest price service for a 2015 Prius Active?
• Object: I want to get to the Prius Active homepage and then look for service costs.
• Subject: I want to go to the Service section and then find costs for a Prius Active service.

Did more people die of heart attacks in Canada than in France in 2010?
• Object: I want to get to the Canada or France homepage and then find a link for health.
• Subject: I want to get to the Health homepage and then find a link to heart disease and then find information on Canada and France.

The closer you get to your destination, the more the navigation should be minimized. Once someone, for example, has arrived at the Martin Smith W-100 Acoustic Guitar homepage, let them focus on that guitar. Make the page all about that guitar. Strip away navigation that is not about that guitar.

Nobody is at your website or app to gaze lovingly at your navigation. “I didn’t like the Grand Canyon itself, but I did enjoy the fonts they used on their signposts,” said nobody, ever (except maybe a graphic designer).

Navigation should not draw attention to itself. It should take up as little space as possible while still being functional and helping people get to where they want to. If your customers are spending a lot of time staring at your navigation, that is most definitely a problem. If the navigation was clear, they could quickly scan it and then choose what they needed to do.

The use of minimalism does depend on where exactly on the site you are. If you are on the homepage of a site like gov.uk, which seeks to deliver a massive range of services to an entire population, then it can make sense to dominate the page with navigation. However, once you get to a specific benefit page, for example, the navigation is minimized so as to focus on the content for that particular benefit.

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