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

Views: 2069

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

Sara Arnold commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"The OmniUpdate family is growing yet again – welcome Austin Peay State University! "
Aug 19
Sara Arnold commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"Whether you’re a brand-new or seasoned user in OU Campus, we’ve got tips to help you save time! Check out today's blog post. "
Aug 17
Sarah Gagne posted a discussion

Is anyone using Concrete5 as their CMS?

Hi,We're currently evaluating two content management systems - Drupal and Concrete5. We're very familiar with Drupal and also like the appeal of Concrete5, but know that Concrete5 isn't widely used. Is anyone here using Concrete5? I'd greatly appreciate any insight that can be shared.Thanks so much!Sarah GagneThe Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy & Clinical PracticeSee More
Aug 17
Profile IconPaul Stokstad and Michael E Matzkin joined University Web Developers
Aug 15
Sara Arnold commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"Learn about 3 key areas of SEO and how you can help increase your website’s visibility in today’s blog post! "
Aug 9
Rachel DeLauder posted a discussion

Researching web content governance in higher ed

NewCity (a web design agency that specializes in higher ed) is doing some research on how web teams at higher ed institutions manage their websites. We want to find out what works for real situations and real people. We’re asking our previous clients and contacts in higher ed to consider participating, and we'll share the results so that we can all (anonymously) learn from each other. Feedback could also end up in a presentation of…See More
Aug 9
Sara Arnold commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"We’ve got another new customer in the house… Welcome Marquette University! "
Aug 5
Profile IconMichelle Hay, David White, Sarah Gagne and 1 more joined University Web Developers
Aug 5
Sara Arnold commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"Learn about the Post-Op, Preventive Care, and Pre-Op phases of a website redesign in today’s blog post and avoid the “dreaded swoop and poop!” "
Aug 3
Sara Arnold commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"Did you know your website’s user experience can impact your marketing efforts? Learn how to assess UX and make it a top priority in today's blog post! "
Jul 20
Sara Arnold commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"We welcome our friends at Kentucky Community & Technical College System to the OmniUpdate family! "
Jul 19
Profile IconPaul Paire and Amy M Andrade joined University Web Developers
Jul 18
Sara Arnold commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"Spelling errors, broken links, weak SEO, and accessibility issues can negatively affect your site visitors’ user experience. Learn how OU Insights continually monitors these areas and helps keep visitors on your site in today's blog post! "
Jul 13
Sara Arnold commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"Giving a warm SoCal welcome to our newest family member, Chabot-Las Positas Community College District! "
Jul 12
Bryce Anderson is now a member of University Web Developers
Jul 12
Profile IconJeannette Modic and Lisa Jones joined University Web Developers
Jul 11
Sara Arnold commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"Are you meeting the high expectations of your technologically savvy site visitors? Found out how to elevate their user experience by focusing on six key areas in today's blog post. "
Jul 7
Cathy Wooten is now a member of University Web Developers
Jul 6
Sara Arnold commented on Lynn Zawie's group OmniUpdate
"Train 300+ content contributors after not one, but two website redesigns? No problem! Discover University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service’s recipe for success in today's blog post. "
Jun 29
Colleen Brennan-Barry posted a discussion

HighEdWeb 2016 welcomes LeVar Burton, Kimberly Bryant, more

HighEdWeb is very pleased to announce our outstanding 2016 Annual Conference keynote speakers: Kimberly Bryant, Aspen Institute Fellow and founder of Black Girls CODE, and LeVar Burton, actor, director and educator.We’re also excited to share our full presentation schedule, which includes more than 70 presentations given in 7…See More
Jun 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

© 2016   Created by Mark Greenfield.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service