Thought I’d give a quick update on the new navigation systems we’re developing for Digital Guides.
Up until now this beta site hadn’t provided users with the means to get between sibling topics within a category. At least, not other than going back to the category page (which we know is slow and extra effort for users).
In our April 23 release we added global navigation, the tab-style primary navigation pattern that is now featured on DTA’s new site (beta.dta.gov.au). This allows users to get a sense of the breadth of content covered by the site and go between areas of interest.
We’re currently developing our secondary navigation, which will appear to the side of the flow content and separate from the header/global nav. This secondary nav will allow users to navigate between siblings and to direct children (i.e. sub-topics) of the page they’re on. We hypothesise that knowing what pages are immediately around the page they’re on (via secondary nav), how deep they’re into the site (via breadcrumbs), and what section (reinforced via global nav) they’re in will improve wayfinding, users’ understanding of location and allow them to better connect with related material.
Given the depth of the Content strategy guide - I’m limiting how many layers of nav are exposed in the secondary menu, so that users don’t get overwhelmed by layers of pages that likely aren’t relevant to decision making at the category level.
Rather than going with an accordion group-style list of nested links:
^ which you can see provides too many choices and potentially costly interactions to make an informed nav choice
We’re going with a static list that only shows up to three levels:
- Page parent (unless already viewing the top-most page)
- My sibling(s)
- My direct children (not grand or great-grand children) if available.
We’ll be testing our hypotheses of course, to see whether or not these nav choices align to user’s mental models during some info-seeking activities.
p.s. on smaller devices like tablets and smartphones, the secondary nav will be collapsed into an accordion titled ‘In this category’ and will appear under the mobile ‘Open menu’/ header and before the page title. The accordion and header are split into distinct areas so that one might not be confused with the other.