Sunday, April 23, 2006

Navigation: Left is Best

Orienting navigation ...

"Web sites and Web applications require users to select from navigational options to access subsequent content pages. An important question relates to where the first navigational choices should be located on the page. Is the navigation better placed at the top of the page, on the left or right panels? If three clicks (i.e., three navigational level selections) are required to get to the desired content, should they be grouped together at the top, left, right, or split between different locations (e.g., select from the top, with the next selection[s] from the left, top or right)?

Research - Kingsbury and Andre (2004) conducted a study to determine which Web-based three-level navigational selection pattern elicited the best human performance and highest user preference. They surveyed 69 Web sites and found that most of them favored a three-level navigational selection structure that was either:

The initial selection was made from the top followed by a selection from the left navigation panel and subsequent selections from the left navigation panel (TLL).
Left selection followed by subsequent left navigation selections (LLL).

Top – Left – Left Navigation Pattern - The L.L. Bean Web site demonstrates a top, left, and left (TLL) navigation structure. Let's say the user wants to shop for women's boots. The user would select Shop from the top navigation options, then Women's from the Departments on the left navigation panel and footwear from the left navigation panel."   continued ...   (Via Usability.gov, Bob Bailey)

Example of a Top – Left – Left navigation structure. - User Interface Design, Human Computer Interaction (HCI), Ergonomics

Example of a Top – Left – Left navigation structure.

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