Help with navigation levels on website

21 Feb 2008 - 7:31am
6 years ago
8 replies
1837 reads
johan.dermaut a...
2006

Hello All,

What do you do when you have four levels of navigation on your website?
Some people told me to:
* reduce the number of levels to three and put them like that at
the top of the page (using tabs), others told me to
* put the top level (or even the two top levels) at the top of the
page (using tabs) and the other levels on the left hand side, and a
third group suggested to
* put the four levels on the left.

What are your suggestions and where can I find tests/reports on this?

Thanks in advance.

Johan

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Comments

21 Feb 2008 - 7:56am
Todd Warfel
2003

On Feb 21, 2008, at 7:31 AM, <johan.dermaut at belgacom.be> <johan.dermaut at belgacom.be
> wrote:

> What do you do when you have four levels of navigation on your
> website?

Why do you have four levels? Perhaps the original approach that
suggests four levels is incorrect and you should revisit the model
you're using.

Caveat: we've done some intranet work where we actually did have to
have four levels—Intranet home/business unit/sub-unit/sub-unit second
level. In this case, we created a primary level at the very top of the
header to get up to the business unit and intranet home. The other two
levels, those that applied to the sub-unit itself, were treated as
normal navigation below the header.

In most cases, however, if you've got four levels deep, you're
probably using the wrong model and should look into more contextual
based navigation and navigation models in the context of the body
rather than traditional header/sidebar models.

Cheers!

Todd Zaki Warfel
President, Design Researcher
Messagefirst | Designing Information. Beautifully.
----------------------------------
Contact Info
Voice: (215) 825-7423
Email: todd at messagefirst.com
AIM: twarfel at mac.com
Blog: http://toddwarfel.com
----------------------------------
In theory, theory and practice are the same.
In practice, they are not.

21 Feb 2008 - 8:28am
johan.dermaut a...
2006

Hi Todd,

Thanks for the quick answer. Here is the explanation why we ended up
with four levels:

First level: type of customers
Second level: type of products
Third level: products
Fourth level: details of products

I think we can probably drop the last level but the other three we
really need.

Johan

21 Feb 2008 - 8:44am
Todd Warfel
2003

On Feb 21, 2008, at 8:28 AM, <johan.dermaut at belgacom.be> <johan.dermaut at belgacom.be
> wrote:

> Thanks for the quick answer. Here is the explanation why we ended up
> with four levels:
>
> First level: type of customers
> Second level: type of products
> Third level: products
> Fourth level: details of products
>
> I think we can probably drop the last level but the other three we
> really need.

Without seeing an example it's hard to provide an accurate
recommendation. However, have you considered parametric navigation
models like you'll find at the left on many ecommerce sites or eBay?

Cheers!

Todd Zaki Warfel
President, Design Researcher
Messagefirst | Designing Information. Beautifully.
----------------------------------
Contact Info
Voice: (215) 825-7423
Email: todd at messagefirst.com
AIM: twarfel at mac.com
Blog: http://toddwarfel.com
----------------------------------
In theory, theory and practice are the same.
In practice, they are not.

21 Feb 2008 - 8:38am
Anonymous

> Thanks for the quick answer. Here is the explanation why we ended up
> with four levels:
>
> First level: type of customers
> Second level: type of products
> Third level: products
> Fourth level: details of products

Johan,

You should be able to remove the 'customers' from the navigation
straight away. Presumably that information is a once-only choice...?
If you have a customer at a particular computer (a work computer, say)
you can set their type in a cookie / site DB once, and then you've
removed the need to have the first level entirely.

Someone ordering business products is probably always going to be
ordering business parts (unless you're working on a site like amazon),
in which case the user will WANT to put the effort in to change
accounts - I don't want to order personal things on my corporate card
& vice versa...

Is that sort of situation applicable to you?

Cheers,

Alex.

21 Feb 2008 - 10:05am
kimbieler
2007

I agree with Alexander. You should be able to take the "customer"
category out of the navigation entirely. A few suggestions:

- Color code the banner to indicate which customer area user is in
- Or simply include the customer type as a running head at the very
top (small, discreet)
- You'll presumably have a search feature, so users can still find
products that aren't categorized under their customer type.
- Detail of product may not require fixed navigation. As an example,
check out www.bestbuy.com. They've got two levels of navigation
across the top, but after that, everything is handled in breadcrumbs.

-- Kim

+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +
Kim Bieler Graphic Design
www.kbgd.com
www.stargazertees.com
c. 240-476-3129
+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +

21 Feb 2008 - 10:09am
russwilson
2005

Whatever you do, don't create tabs within tabs within tabs...

On Thu, Feb 21, 2008 at 9:05 AM, Kim Bieler <kimbieler at mindspring.com>
wrote:

> I agree with Alexander. You should be able to take the "customer"
> category out of the navigation entirely. A few suggestions:
>
> - Color code the banner to indicate which customer area user is in
> - Or simply include the customer type as a running head at the very
> top (small, discreet)
> - You'll presumably have a search feature, so users can still find
> products that aren't categorized under their customer type.
> - Detail of product may not require fixed navigation. As an example,
> check out www.bestbuy.com. They've got two levels of navigation
> across the top, but after that, everything is handled in breadcrumbs.
>
>
> -- Kim
>
> + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +
> Kim Bieler Graphic Design
> www.kbgd.com
> www.stargazertees.com
> c. 240-476-3129
> + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +
>
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
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--
Russell Wilson
Vice President of Product Design, NetQoS
Blog: http://www.dexodesign.com

22 Feb 2008 - 9:33pm
Bill Fernandez
2007

Johan--

I do not believe that for optimal usability a navigational structure
*must* be shallow, or that all branches *must* be equally deep, or
that you *must* never present more than 5 +/- 2 choices, etc.

It's more important to me that the forward traversal of each path
makes sense, that each stage shows the right information in the right
way, that the user can easily determine where he/she is, and that
it's easy and clear how to get back to the beginning or to jump to
other areas of importance.

I believe that you have to do whatever is right for your project. I
often find when looking over a design that I've finished that I've
used up to six levels of navigational depth in the deepest areas, but
that very few navigational pathways are that deep.

The four navigational levels you outlined sound very sensible, and
may indeed be the right ones for your project.

FWIW,
Bill

At 1:31 PM +0100 2/21/08, <johan.dermaut at belgacom.be> wrote:
>Hello All,
>
>What do you do when you have four levels of navigation on your website?
>Here is the explanation why we ended up
>with four levels:
>
>First level: type of customers
>Second level: type of products
>Third level: products
>Fourth level: details of products

--

======================================================================
Bill Fernandez * User Interface Architect * Bill Fernandez Design

(505) 346-3080 * bf_list1 AT billfernandez DOT com *
http://billfernandez.com
======================================================================

24 Feb 2008 - 12:04pm
christian@lesko...
2008

The only problem I have with such deeply nested hierarchies is that a
person trying to find something on your site has to think exactly
like you do to be successful.

If you can get rid of one level of nesting that'd be great for sure.
Maybe alternatives to main navigation could help your users: a
sitemap, index or search perhaps?

Good luck,

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