Navigation systems consist of tools that enable users to find their way around a site. Such tools tell users where they are, where they have been, and how to get to where they want to go.
While browsers are equipped with basic navigational features like Back, Forward, History and Bookmark, a complex Web site needs to provide more navigational help. Navigation features can be classified as Global, Local, or Supplemental.
Labels represent groupings of information. Organization and navigation systems cannot exist without labels. An example of a label is "User Profile." The label might accompany a clickable button and lead to a grouping of information about the user. Well-designed labels can
efficiently convey complex ideas in a minimum of space. Successful label use requires creating a labeling system, in which the user can readily grasp a logic and consistency in the way labels are deployed.
The following Slide Show will illustrate several types of navigation and labeling features.
Local elements: Appearing only on pages of a sub-site
Supplemental elements: Placed remotely, give overview of site content and organization
Labels: Textual and iconic elements
Textual labels: Literal, word-based indicators
Iconic labels: Visual images that resemble what they represent
Web Navigational Elements
When users look for information, they have a goal and will methodically look for that which they are searching. Even before you started to read this paragraph, chances are you did because you either had the implicit goal of determining the elements of web navigation, or had the explicit goal of finding information about Navigation Design.
Navigation is only one segment of the information architecture of a website, but it is the most visible segment to the end user. Fortunately, the internal structure of your web development team does not have to be known to the end user.
marketing may maintain most of the site,
human resources maintains the job section,
and investor relations has outsourced the finance to Goldman Sachs.
If your site shares a navigation strategy, the minor behind the scenes implementations will be much less apparent to the user.
In the following lesson, you will learn more about another key component of information architecture which is searching.