Home > Usability > Navigation and IA Usability Guidelines

Navigation and IA Usability Guidelines

February 28, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

Navigation and information architecture are the components of web pages that support the user in finding information and in browsing through the site’s content. A well designed navigation system is more than a good taxonomy: it encourages customers to explore parts of the site they may otherwise have missed.

List of navigation and IA usability guidelines

  1. There is a convenient and obvious way to move between related pages and sections and it is easy to return to the home page.
  2. The information that users are most likely to need is easy to navigate to from most pages.
  3. Navigation choices are ordered in the most logical or task-oriented manner.
  4. The navigation system is broad and shallow (many items on a menu) rather than deep (many menu levels).
  5. The site structure is simple, with a clear conceptual model and no unnecessary levels.
  6. The major sections of the site are available from every page (persistent navigation) and there are no dead ends.
  7. Navigation tabs are located at the top of the page, and look like clickable versions of real-world tabs.
  8. There is a site map that provides an overview of the site’s content.
  9. The site map is linked to from every page.
  10. The site map provides a concise overview of the site, not a rehash of the main navigation or a list of every single topic.
  11. Good navigational feedback is provided (e.g. showing where you are in the site).
  12. Category labels accurately describe the information in the category.
  13. Links and navigation labels contain the “trigger words” that users will look for to achieve their goal.
  14. Terminology and conventions (such as link colours) are (approximately) consistent with general web usage.
  15. Links look the same in the different sections of the site.
  16. Product pages contain links to similar and complementary products to support cross-selling.
  17. The terms used for navigation items and hypertext links are unambiguous and jargon-free.
  18. Users can sort and filter catalogue pages (e.g. by listing in price order, or showing ‘most popular’).
  19. There is a visible change when the mouse points at something clickable (excluding cursor changes).
  20. Important content can be accessed from more than one link (different users may require different link labels).
  21. Navigation-only pages (such as the home page) can be viewed without scrolling.
  22. Hypertext links that invoke actions (e.g downloads, new windows) are clearly distinguished from hypertext links that load another page.
  23. The site allows the user to control the pace and sequence of the interaction.
  24. There are clearly marked exits on every page allowing the user to bale out of the current task without having to go through an extended dialog.
  25. The site does not disable the browser’s “Back” button and the “Back” button appears on the browser toolbar on every page.
  26. Clicking the back button always takes the user back to the page the user came from.
  27. A link to both the basket and checkout is clearly visible on every page.
  28. If the site spawns new windows, these will not confuse the user (e.g. they are dialog-box sized and can be easily closed).
  29. Menu instructions, prompts and messages appear on the same place on each screen.


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