— 3 February 2007 —

Navigation Models — It’s Not Just Main And Sub But Whose

This is just a bit of thoughtage* on navigation as I browsed the new Where’s The Fire (WTF) service from Technorati.

Technorati Top Navigation

When you are signed in to Technorati, there are 8 links at the top of the page: Home, Popular, Favorites, Watchlists, the aforementioned WTF, your ID (Join when logged out), Sign Out (Sign In when logged out), and Help.

While the links are placed in a fine spot of the page, and remain consistent throughout the site, noticing the recent addition of WTF made me think, WTF**? Now, if you are going to put that link somewhere, why not there? I agree. But it just looks… appended.

In the graphic above I separated the links with red squares and blue circles (look how he doesn’t fall into the trap of using colour as the primary indicator!). The red squares are links I feel “belong” to Technorati. The blue circles are links I feel “belong” to me. Perhaps instead of “belong” I should say “are about.” My point is that the Technorati links are for everyone to use, and the me links are more for, uh, me. :)

Instead of appending WTF on the end of the set of links on the left, I’d take this opportunity of changing the nav to really make it right.

Left Side (Red Squares)

Home, Popular, [Top Blogs], WTF

I added Top Blogs because, while it’s in the Popular section, I think it is interesting enough to bring it up a level in navigation. Otherwise that’s all I’d put on that side.

Right Side (Blue Circles)

ID, [My Blogs], Favorites, Watchlists, Sign Out, Help

I added My Blogs because… well why not? Why make me go to the home page or my ID then the Blogs tab to get there? Also, I kept Help on the right side. Why? Good question. It’s more of a Red Square link (as in the image above) but doesn’t really belong to either side in a way. I’d leave it tucked in the right corner the way it is for two reasons: 1) because help is usually a last resort for most users, and 2) the right corner is will keep it out of the way of more important links.

So…

I don’t think Technorati’s navigation schema is broken, but I do think making this change would help. Especially bringing Top Blogs and My Blogs up one level. Unless those links are not oft used, bringing them up a level will decrease the amount of time it takes a user to get to those pages and decrease the bandwidth used for Technorati and users alike. And who doesn’t want to serve up less bandwidth? No one, that’s who.

Like the title of this post says, it’s not just about “this is the top nav,” and “this is the left nav,” it’s about who the links belong to. Not on all sites obviously. But taking “ownership” into account when creating a navigation model can be a helpful way to speed users along to the parts of your site they most want to visit.

* Thoughtage coined by Natalie Jost, used without permission.

** Sadly, Technorati is attempting to co-opt the acronym of WTF which as all good people like us know stands for What’s That For.

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