Published on Boxes & Arrows – May 12, 2021
Forget The Trail Of Breadcrumbs – The Importance of Designing a Different Navigation Structure
Enterprises often have a simplistic understanding of navigational structures in UX Design. Companies shy away from messing with known organizational schemas for fear that their users or customers will become confused and run away. We don’t give our users enough credit.
As a result, most software navigational structures either reflect hierarchical departmental company/brand organization (because how can users be confused by that?), or a very top-heavy list of bucketed themes loosely based on general product “themes” (hello Amazon!).
Besides thinking about the actual organizational structure, we also know that a user must have some guideposts to retrace their steps if lost. Thus, today, “leaving a trail of breadcrumbs” really means allowing the user to get back to where they came from in a linear path by backtracking their steps. How cumbersome it is to hierarchically retrace steps or click the browser back button like a well trained monkey.
Taking all this into account, we got to thinking: What if a navigational structure could shapeshift to fit a user’s intention at any moment at any place? What if a user could apparate to any point of the website/product from their current location based on their intention/need? Isn’t that what hyperlinking is all about anyway?
To do this, a proposed navigational structure would have to (1) understand what the user intends to do at all times and (2) be flexible enough to transport the user to any place in the software based on the current user intention.
Let’s examine these two requirements separately.
For more on the subject, check out these ideas:
What is Website Navigation
How to Talk With Customers Through Your Website
Designing Website Navigation for Customer Intentions
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