Embedded Navigation Systems

Most large web sites include all three of the major embedded navigation systems we saw back in Figure 7-1. Global, local, and contextual navigation are extremely common on the Web. Each system solves specific problems and presents unique challenges. To design a successful site, it is essential to understand the nature of these systems and how they work together to provide context and flexibility.

Global (Site-Wide) Navigation Systems

By definition, a global navigation system is intended to be present on every page throughout a site. It is often implemented in the form of a navigation bar at the top of each page. These site-wide navigation systems allow direct access to key areas and functions, no matter where the user travels in the site’s hierarchy.

Because global navigation bars are often the single consistent navigation element in the site, they have a huge impact on usability. Consequently, they should be subjected to intensive, iterative user-centered design and testing.

Global navigation bars come in all shapes and sizes. Consider the examples shown in Figure 7-7.

Global navigation bars from Dell, Apple, and Amazon

Figure 7-7. Global navigation bars from Dell, Apple, and Amazon

Most global navigation bars provide a link to the home page. Many provide a link to the search function. Some, like Apple’s and Amazon’s, reinforce the site’s structure and provide contextual clues to identify the user’s current ...

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