Wednesday, April 26, 2006

The Challenges of Moving to Horizontal Navigation

An in depth look at the CNN redesign...

"The designers of recently redesigned their home page, changing from a left-hand, vertical navigation scheme to a top-of-the-page, horizontal one. They even created a page that highlights their new changes.

Interestingly, the designers didn’t change (or haven’t yet changed) the interior pages of the site, driving consistency-minded designers nuts everywhere. Fortunately, however, this gives us the opportunity to look closely at the decisions they made, and to highlight several issues involved in making such a change.

Here’s what their homepage looked like this recently:

As you can see, the layout has changed dramatically. The content has been shifted left, where navigation used to be. The navigation is now in a thin blue bar across the top of the page. This has the positive effect of moving the visual weight away from the navigation and toward the actual story. When the navigation is on the left, our eyes are instinctly drawn to it, even when we already know what it is. This distraction, however small, is less noticable in the new horizontal design.

To get this change, the designers didn’t simply put the left-hand nav buttons end-to-end across the top of the page. No, they had to make several design choices. Most of these choices were influenced by the width of the page and the number of links they were working with."   continued ...   (Via UIE)

CNN's horizontal navigation - User Interface Design, Human Computer Interaction (HCI), Ergonomics

CNN's horizontal navigation


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