In the header of my website, I have a navigation bar with “Tabs” representing difference content Sections in my website. (See Screenshot #1)
When a user clicks on a Section, a listing of related Articles is displayed, and the “Tab” becomes highlighted. (This seems straight-forward enough?!)
If the user then chooses a particular Article, it is displayed on a new page, and the related “Tab” remains highlighted like this… (See Screenshot #2)
Does this make sense visually?
For some reason, the highlighted “Finance” tab and the Article “Postage Meters Can Save You Money” seem somewhat disconnected?! :-/
Also, I wonder if having the “Finance” tab highlighted, might somehow confuse a user into not realizing that if they are reading an Article, but click on the highlighted Section, then they will be taken back to the “Section Home Page” which lists all Articles in said Section.
I am using “Pretty URLs”, so I’d like to think these help a user figure out where they are to some degree… (See Screenshot #3)
(And, yes, having a “breadcrumb” might be nice, but that will have to wait until my next release.)
So overall, what do you think?
Do my Navigation Tabs confuse things or help users figure out where they are at?!
I usually expect to see it highlighted, although I wouldn’t complain if it wasn’t.
On a few designs I recently worked on, top-level menu items were highlighted while on subpages of that menu item. So, my preference might lean toward having it highlighted, although it’s completely up to you since there are no hard rules for going either way on this.
Either way, I would consider breadcrumbs more essential than highlighting (but like you said, it’s something planned for another time).
Convenience. A visitor shouldn’t have to “figure it out”. If you force them to do anything on their own, they’ll give up and go elsewhere.
Navigation is important, and it’s critical that you help prevent a visitor from getting lost on your site.
Basically, you only have about half a second of a visitor’s attention before they decide to stay and look around, or simply “bounce” (this is where the bounce rate of website analytics comes into play).