University Web Developers

University Web Developers

Vertical vs Horizontal Global Navigation (any usability studies?)

Are there any case studies or data on the usability of vertical navigation on higher education websites? I'm referring to vertical global navigation, which would also include vertical navigation for lower level sites. 

The only references I came across (not specific to higher ed) are this article http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2010/01/11/the-case-against-vertica... and this blog post - http://www.usefulusability.com/main-navigation-types-and-usability-.... Is there more definitive information out there? I'm trying to build a case against going with a new site design that features vertical navigation.

The biggest drawback I see for implementing vertical global navigation is poor usability. Given the large amount of content typically found on a higher ed sites, need to serve multiple audiences, many lower level pages I think it's hard to navigate sites with vertical nav. As you get deeper into lower level department sites the navigation tends to extend further down the page which might force you to scroll up or down on the page to access the page content or links in the vertical navigation. 

Appreciate any thoughts or suggestions.

Thanks,

Doug

Tags: IA, experience, usability, user

Views: 1812

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

I'll look forward to answers as they come in on this one- we have both horizontal and vertical nav...........

Thanks Sarah. Just to clarify, I'm talking about just a vertical navigation for global nav and subsite nav. My feeling is that most visitors to higher ed sites are use to a IA convention of having a horizontal global primary nav and then a vertical subsite navigation once you get level pages off the homepage, e.g., Admission, Academics, Campus Life, and vertical nav for lower level department pages.

Hope this makes sense. There are sites out there that use an entirely vertical navigation (with no horizontal nav for global nav links) so I'm looking for any usability data that takes about the pros and cons of this approach.

Thanks,

Doug

HMM. I see. Yes, we have a vertical nav on our homepage currently, but its not global and we are actually looking to remove it now. If I run across any global-level usability stuff in my travels, I'll know where to post it!

I don't know of any specific studies, but I agree that the majority of higher ed sites use horizontal primary and vertical secondary navs. This is something I've been thinking a lot about lately as we update our core templates to build in responsive features. I don't think a combined global and secondary vertical nav would work well. Depending on the design it could be too much to scan and gets in the way of valuable real estate.

Our global nav is horizontal and is featured on every single page. Individual sites, such as this one,  have a title bar, and then their own primary horizontal nav below it. Within each main section, or tab, there is a vertical nav which can support up to two levels. I have sometimes wondered if having two horizontal navs would be confusing, but so far informal and anecdotal data shows that it works fairly well. I'm also working to remove dropdown/flyout menus across the board because in a lot of cases its overkill, and is hard to use on mobile/touch devices.

tl;dr - a vertical global nav for the whole site doesn't make much sense IMHO. I think a horizontal layout, combined with a visual tab metaphor, is the way to go.

RSS

Elsewhere

Latest Activity

Erin Leavitt commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"Your content management system requires certain functionalities and services; one being ongoing support. See how OmniUpdate delivers in this blog post! "
12 hours ago
Erin Leavitt commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"Congratulations to California Lutheran University on their new responsive website! Check it out: www.callutheran.edu www.callutheran.edu"
yesterday
Scott Dewar is now a member of University Web Developers
yesterday
Erin Leavitt commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"Still need to register for the eduWeb Digital Summit? Use discount code ECD2015 to get a $100 discount! "
Jun 25
Louise Ryan posted a discussion

Please take a moment to complete the 2015 Higher Education Web Survey

Have your say in the 2nd Annual T4 Higher Education web survey and be in with a chance to win £/$/€ 100 Amazon voucher. It's open to all IT & Marketing professionals who work in Higher Education & it only takes 2 minutes; enter hereSee More
Jun 25
Profile IconBlaine Herman, Christy Hill and Theresa Rumjahn joined University Web Developers
Jun 20
Profile IconEric Swearengin and Kathy Henning joined University Web Developers
Jun 18
Erin Leavitt commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"Three cheers for SUNY Alfred State College joining the OmniUpdate family!"
Jun 18
Erin Leavitt commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"New blog post! Check out this recap of Higher Ed Live's "Communication United: Social Media and Your Website" featuring Elizabethtown College and Pepperdine University.  “Communication United: Social Media and Your…"
Jun 16
Erin Leavitt commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"Please help us welcome SUNY Fashion Institute of Technology to the OU Campus user community! "
Jun 12
James Trotter is now a member of University Web Developers
Jun 10
Erin Leavitt commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"OmniUpdate Director of Implementations, Marcel Ayers, discusses responsive design frameworks and tries to answer: Is one framework better than the rest?  "
Jun 10
Profile IconKevin M. Lindsay, Breanna Scott and Dan Anderson joined University Web Developers
Jun 8
Colleen Brennan-Barry posted a discussion

The HighEdWeb 2015 Schedule is Now Available

We’re thrilled to share that the HighEdWeb 2015 Annual Conference schedule is live! http://2015.highedweb.org/schedule/This year we’ll be gathering in Milwaukee, Wis. on October 4-7 to learn from a stellar lineup of speakers, with 70+ sessions in six tracks. There is something for everyone: programmers, strategists, developers, designers, content creators, social media managers, and everyone in between!Session tracks…See More
Jun 5
Andrew Breshears posted a discussion

Web Designer opening - Stillwater, OK

Job SummaryThis position supports and maintains Oklahoma State University's web presence by providing web development and design expertise system-wide. Serves as web support for Oklahoma State University.  Job duties includeFacilitating content management system training Holding regular collaborative meetings with web administrators from across the campus.Process iSupport tickets as neededProvide assistance for campus web development issues.Providing technical support to web…See More
Jun 4
Erin Leavitt commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"Google recently announced that as of April 21, 2015, they are placing much more emphasis on mobile-friendliness as part of their ranking algorithm. Is your higher ed website mobile-friendly? "
Jun 3
Rod Francey is now a member of University Web Developers
Jun 3
Erin Leavitt commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
" New article featured in the Higher Ed Live blog! Great Content Strategy in Higher Ed: It's All About That Base by Carol Clements "
Jun 1
David Bass is now a member of University Web Developers
Jun 1
Erin Leavitt commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"Eastern Michigan University College of Education's website is now mobile optimized! Get out your mobile device and check it out: www.emich.edu/coe "
May 29

UWEBD has been in existence for more than 10 years and is the very best email discussion list on the Internet, in any industry, on any topic

About

© 2015   Created by Mark Greenfield.

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service