A good analogy for navigation I read on Webdesignerdepot.com is that navigation is like the layout of a house. It can be used to either find material quickly, or guide the user to the most important part of the website. The biggest takeaway I had from this article is to keep the navigation as simple and straightforward as possible. When a user is presented with too many choices, they get frustrated and leave the website. Too many choices mean no choice will be made. They used an example that Microsoft’s website has only three categories for navigation. That’s incredibly simple for a company with such a wide product range.
Placement of the navigation is also something to keep in mind. On a mobile device, the navigation should be vertical, but on a desktop, there’s more flexibility as to where the navigation can go. Something that was recommended to me last year in my Web Theory and Design class was the use of breadcrumbs. After using them once in my navigation design, I’ll never go back. It seemed to organize the page better and made it easier for the user to return to a previously visited page. Something else I struggled with in that class was naming the categories of my navigation. I wanted the user to understand what the category was without it becoming too obscure. I learned to keep navigation broad, and specify in the subcategories what it is the designer is trying to convey.