UI/UX Principle #5: Don’t Forget UX of Navigation & URLs
Great UI/UX design requires attention to the macro visuals and micro details to build compelling experiences.
One detail often forgotten is the role navigation and URL’s can play in guiding a user, telling a story, and providing more meaning to reinforce everything else on the page.
Navigation Has Meaning and Can Start the Story
Good UX often starts with information hierarchy, and your navigation shapes the direction of usability, interaction, and story with an app or website. Rather than linking pages in arbitrary groupings or hierarchies as you go along, significant usability improvements can be made by simply including the most important pages and actions in the main navigation. Think of navigation as the beginning of a story you are telling.
To finetune your navigation, take a step back and assess your target users, your top user stories, and your biggest call to actions. Understanding your biggest user stories can help create a blueprint for your navigation and ensure the most important pages are exactly where users expect to find them. Simple, clear navigation is the beginning of good UI.
URLs Can Also Give Direction, Location, and Meaning
URLs are another useful navigation tool for users and search engines, but this key usability detail is often forgotten in the planning stage.
Clean, easy-to-understand URLs help users clarify where they are and where they want to go. Experts, including Google, agree that shorter URLs are better.
Search engines are getting more sophisticated and closer to understanding natural language and thought processes; so, they should be considered a user too.
According to Dr. Pete, Marketing Scientist for Seattle-based Moz, in his 25-point Website Usability Checklist, “This is a point of some debate, but meaningful keyword-based URLs are generally good for both visitors and search engines. You don’t have to re-engineer an entire site just to get new URLs, but do what you can to make them descriptive and friendly.”
This URL clearly summarizes a page for users:
Navigation and URLs are one of many areas to consider, but given their role in guiding a user and reinforcing story and objectives, it’s important to not forget the UX of navigation and URLs as you take a serious approach to building your experiences.