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View Poll Results: Top or Left Navigation?

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  • Top Navigation

    6 46.15%
  • Left Navigation

    7 53.85%
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  1. #1
    SitePoint Evangelist compwizard's Avatar
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    Top Navigation or Left Navigation

    Which does everyone prefer...top navigation or left navigation?
    Compwizard
    "There are 10 kinds of people in this world -- those who know binary, and those who don't."

  2. #2
    SitePoint Wizard DougBTX's Avatar
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    both, and a bit of bottom navigation of the page is long.
    Hello World

  3. #3
    ☆★☆★ silver trophy vgarcia's Avatar
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    I second the move for "both".

  4. #4
    SitePoint Wizard
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    Yeah me too. Main links at the top; secondary links on the left - i.e. category-specific navigation; and links like "Contact us", "Privacy", "Terms of Use" etc at the bottom

    -Sam
    Sam Hastings

  5. #5
    SitePoint Evangelist dhtmlhelp's Avatar
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    I would say positioning depends on your site's necessities and priorities, the business you are in or the info you are promoting. For example, if you are promoting your image, trust in your company/ebusiness, I would put that information right at the top, the most visible part, unless you are already a household name. Think of using tabs for the top to contextualise content by color. I agree with Sam re category-specific navigation in the left menu, and maybe FAQs further down.

    One risk of using both navigation options together (top and left) (often the only option) is that of overcluttering the page with choices and not giving the user enough scope. One of those 'less is more' contexts, it would be great to read how others are coping with it.

    DH

  6. #6
    SitePoint Evangelist compwizard's Avatar
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    dhtmlhelp - I certainly agree with you! I have done a limited amount of "walk-throughs" with "non-techie" people and I hear the same thing over and over. They click on one link on the top, and the menu on the left changes. They have no idea how to get back to the meanu that was on the left before. That is why I try to stay away from BOTH types of navagation. (Unless, one does not change the other's choices, ie, you have tabs at the top and corresponding text links on the left.)

    Thanks for you input everyone... keep it coming!
    Compwizard
    "There are 10 kinds of people in this world -- those who know binary, and those who don't."

  7. #7
    Forensic SEO Consultant Webnauts's Avatar
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    Usability Guideline: Use the right margin for the Web site's main index.

    Comments: Reserach shows that users click on topics in the right margin with much more efficiency than topics placed on the left, because they are much closer to the scroll bar. This allows users to quickly move the pointer between the scroll bar and the index items. Benefits are particularly strong for laptops.

    Source: Bailey, R.W., Koyani S. and Nall, J. (2000), Usability testing of several health information Web sites, National Cancer Institute Technical Report, September 7-8.

  8. #8
    SitePoint Evangelist dhtmlhelp's Avatar
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    Hi Webnauts,

    it is an interesting point, the question is can you afford to go against the convention?

    Also it would be interesting to know to what extent this study is pertinent to health websites only.

    DH

  9. #9
    Forensic SEO Consultant Webnauts's Avatar
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    I guess you got something wrong! These standards are not only for health websites!!!

    If you are interested in further resources, let me know!

  10. #10
    SitePoint Evangelist dhtmlhelp's Avatar
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    Usability testing of several health information Web sites

  11. #11
    Forensic SEO Consultant Webnauts's Avatar
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    Well, I guess it does not make sence to argue. I am myself a usability professional, ex-leader of Usability Testing at Lycos Europe, and besides I have endless of resources of studies, etc, concerning the thema "Navigation" of web sites in general.

    But it seem's to me, that you are expertised on this topic, so I guess I must draw back any info I have published, and I will not provide any further support on this topic, if I am not asked directly....

    Is that ok?

  12. #12
    SitePoint Evangelist dhtmlhelp's Avatar
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    Webnuts read my post before replying. You have quoted a source and I went by your source.

    As to whether you want to share your thoughts I think you have been doing it liberally up to now.

    DH

  13. #13
    Forensic SEO Consultant Webnauts's Avatar
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    Lightbulb

    Quote Originally Posted by dhtmlhelp
    Webnuts read my post before replying. You have quoted a source and I went by your source.

    As to whether you want to share your thoughts I think you have been doing it liberally up to now.

    DH
    Hey DHTMLhelp, first I like my new username: Webnuts [img]images/smilies/FRlol.gif[/img].
    I know you have misspelled. Or am I one? [img]images/smilies/rolleyes.gif[/img]

    By the way, I am not trying in these forums to share my thoughts, but evidence based information.

    I think it is the responsibility of all of us, to provide bullet-proof information, while we must consider in the first place, why do we ask questions here, and what can a wrong anwser result....

    Please be aware, that I did not intend to offend you, if you felt so.

    By the way, I guess we just better get back to work. Or? [img]images/smilies/smile.gif[/img]

  14. #14
    SitePoint Evangelist dhtmlhelp's Avatar
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    Hi Webnauts,

    I am sure it is a problem of language. Let me rephrase. You have provided a statistic from a study focusing on health information websites to back up the idea that right side menus are better than left menus in term of accurate user response. Do we agree up to here?

    Now my question was:

    1) Most users expect the main menu to be on the left, for the simple reason that they have been brought up that way. So my consideration was, how appropriate is it to change conventions (we should put this in context, are we talking ebusiness, epublishing, etours)?

    2) You (or the study) have concluded something based on one study, at least from what I have read in your post. Do you have other studies that confirm what you have stated, or does the study allow to draw general guidelines?

    Rules based on figures, and not generalisations based on one study. That is my concern.

    DH

  15. #15
    SitePoint Evangelist dhtmlhelp's Avatar
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    PS: The reason I ask you is not because I think you are wrong or because I want to prove you wrong, which seems to be what you thought. I am truly interested to know more about any usability study I can get my eyes on. Ultimately it is the choice of the designing team to apply a guideline(after all considerations have been made); guidelines are precisely what the word says, a guide, and should be treated as such with the appropriate dose of common sense.

  16. #16
    Forensic SEO Consultant Webnauts's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dhtmlhelp
    PS: The reason I ask you is not because I think you are wrong or because I want to prove you wrong, which seems to be what you thought. I am truly interested to know more about any usability study I can get my eyes on. Ultimately it is the choice of the designing team to apply a guideline(after all considerations have been made); guidelines are precisely what the word says, a guide, and should be treated as such with the appropriate dose of common sense.
    [img]images/smilies/thumbs_up.gif[/img] You are right DHTML help! I guess it was just a language misunderstanding! [img]images/smilies/blush.gif[/img] My apologies for any inconveniences....

    [img]images/smilies/smile.gif[/img] Here is another study which could help us all to decide what would be the best option:

    http://jodi.ecs.soton.ac.uk/Articles/v04/i01/Kalbach/

  17. #17
    SitePoint Evangelist compwizard's Avatar
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    Okay...everyone.... ENOUGH!!

    When I started this topic, I meant for it to be an open discussion, not your personal argument thread. If anyone else has an opinion or would like to vote, please do so, but if you two are just going to continue fighting, I will ask a mentor or the like to lock the thread.
    Compwizard
    "There are 10 kinds of people in this world -- those who know binary, and those who don't."

  18. #18
    ☆★☆★ silver trophy vgarcia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by compwizard
    Okay...everyone.... ENOUGH!!

    When I started this topic, I meant for it to be an open discussion, not your personal argument thread. If anyone else has an opinion or would like to vote, please do so, but if you two are just going to continue fighting, I will ask a mentor or the like to lock the thread.
    Looks like the problem resolved itself. No need for staff intervention .

  19. #19
    Forensic SEO Consultant Webnauts's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by vgarcia
    Looks like the problem resolved itself. No need for staff intervention [img]images/smilies/smile.gif[/img].
    I guess you are right! By the way, I guess I must simply unsubscribe from this thread!

    No intention to make any stress here. Sorry!

  20. #20
    SitePoint Evangelist dhtmlhelp's Avatar
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    Great article, thanks webnauts.

    Two interesting points:

    1) PRO LEFT
    Hofer and Zimmermann (2000) report results of a study conducted on four different navigation positions on a page: top, right, bottom, and left. Forty subjects were divided equally into four groups and assigned one of the four navigation arrangements. Task completion time was recorded with a stopwatch. Their results show that a left-hand navigation performed much better than any other position on the page by a factor of two. The right-hand test condition yielded the longest times for task completion. They speculate that the right brain hemisphere, which controls spatial interpretation, the processing of images, and the left field of vision, is better suited for handling the task of navigation through a Web site. The left hemisphere, the rational side controlling text, speech, and the decoding of information, corresponds to the right field of vision and is better for processing text and information. According to the authors, placing the navigation on the left and content on the right facilitates information processing in the human brain. No sources are cited to support this contention.
    2) 'PRO RIGHT'
    Interestingly, Nielsen (1999) also theorizes that right-justified navigation areas should result in better user tasking and usability. He believes that placing the navigation menu next to the scrollbar will save users time. Additionally, he claims that a right-hand navigation and the main content area on the left should increase the priority of content. Nielsen abandons this logic, however, and goes on to dictate the use of a left-hand navigation: "If we were starting from scratch, we might improve the usability of a site by 1% or so by having a navigation rail on the right rather than on the left. But deviating from the standard would almost certainly impose a much bigger cost in terms of confusion and reduced ability to navigate smoothly" (Nielsen 1999). In other words, the vestigial behavior outweighs the actual efficiency of a right-hand navigation. Nielsen offers no proof of reduced usability with a right-hand navigation, however.
    It is starting to have a political feel to it. I'd say Hasta la victoria siempre , but I agree, right side menus are great for procedural tasks (example a step by step process) or for portray a different image, where different can have many definitions.

    DH

  21. #21
    SitePoint Evangelist dhtmlhelp's Avatar
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    Guys guys,

    we are discussing, it is only natural that things heat up sometimes. Who has worked in a team trying to choose which way to go knows exactly what I mean.

    Compwizard, my apologies for the incomprehensions which are now resolved, let's get back to some positive discussion here.

    DH

  22. #22
    Forensic SEO Consultant Webnauts's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dhtmlhelp
    Great article, thanks webnauts.

    Two interesting points:

    1) PRO LEFT

    2) 'PRO RIGHT'

    It is starting to have a political feel to it. I'd say Hasta la victoria siempre [img]images/smilies/biggrin.gif[/img], but I agree, right side menus are great for procedural tasks (example a step by step process) or for portray a different image, where different can have many definitions.

    DH
    You are right DHTMLhelp! I have experienced a lot of politic in usability.

    It is normal. Usability is also business.

    By the way, my knowledge and experience in the Information Architecture field convinced me, that an objective position for a navigation, were there is no space left to argue, is the "TOP".

    In case someone is interested in the establishment of Web Style Standards, and will like to support that, will choose the option: "RIGHT".

    In case someone wants to walk backward on the Web confused: count-down?), will choose: "LEFT"!

  23. #23
    SitePoint Wizard samsm's Avatar
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    Well, premise #1 in my mind is that navigation items should be clear and attention getting, well thought out and arranged in a logical order. I would venture that those details are more important than placement, as long as the placement is reasonably decent.

    I like dual placement myself, but that is something that requires one to be very careful... you run the risk of confusing users if they expect a navigation item to be in one menu but it is in another or if you have similar items in different locations.

    If you are doing top navigation, I don't think multiple rows of links really works. If that is in fact the case, you only have room for a few links up there while the right side can hold quite a few more. That's one practical way to get to a decision.
    Using your unpaid time to add free content to SitePoint Pty Ltd's portfolio?

  24. #24
    Forensic SEO Consultant Webnauts's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by samsm
    Well, premise #1 in my mind is that navigation items should be clear and attention getting, well thought out and arranged in a logical order. I would venture that those details are more important than placement, as long as the placement is reasonably decent.

    I like dual placement myself, but that is something that requires one to be very careful... you run the risk of confusing users if they expect a navigation item to be in one menu but it is in another or if you have similar items in different locations.

    If you are doing top navigation, I don't think multiple rows of links really works. If that is in fact the case, you only have room for a few links up there while the right side can hold quite a few more. That's one practical way to get to a decision.
    I also agree that multiple rows of links would not really work.
    Though when designing a top navigation, the links importance level should be considered.

    I would recommend you all to have a look at this web site:

    http://www.bunnyfoot.com

    For my experience as an Information Architect, I think it is very interesting.

  25. #25
    Forensic SEO Consultant Webnauts's Avatar
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    I still think that the navigation on the right would be more usable:

    http://www.boxesandarrows.com/archiv...redesigned.php


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