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Menu placement opinions

  • # April 29, 2013 at 10:14 am

    > So what’s the point in adding a menu at the top?

    http://uxdesign.smashingmagazine.com/2012/09/11/sticky-menus-are-quicker-to-navigate/

    Sorry for not contributing more, I’m on vacation so I’m just jumping in. :)

    # April 29, 2013 at 11:10 am

    @AlenAbdula I agree that it benefits the user for navigating the site however, I find it to be a big distraction on single article pages.

    And sites like You Know Who where the main navigation is stuck to the bottom, that’s horrible. It cuts off content when scrolling and becomes a focus point rather than the content.

    # April 29, 2013 at 11:46 am

    > But how can you assume on “most sites” it would not work? Don’t you think data should be involved here before coming to such conclusions?

    “Don’t you think data should be involved here” – Umm, yes. I have read plenty of data on usability which points to the behaviour I’m describing.

    > Years in the industry ≠ success

    No, but it usually does mean experience & knowledge. Just as with education.

    As I said, you’re describing this as something that is new. It’s not, we’ve been down this path before, with the same ideas, and the same eventual outcome I’m sure.

    Well, with one difference (hopefully): This time round, those who do consider breaking good usability rules do so with research into what their users will accept, rather than just blindly follow some random idea, _or somebody else’s idea_.

    > I find it to be a big distraction on single article pages.

    Number 1 mistake made by less knowledgeable users/clients: Believing that what they want/prefer is what the majority of users want/prefer.

    # April 29, 2013 at 11:52 am

    Umm, yes. I have read plenty of data on usability which points to the behaviour I’m describing.

    Human behavior changes all the time. Why is forcing a user to change their pattern wrong? Design has done this drastically across many areas. I think if it improves UX and usability, there shouldn’t be an issue.

    As I said, you’re describing this as something that is new. It’s not, we’ve been down this path before, with the same ideas, and the same eventual outcome I’m sure.

    No, I’m asking why. As technology changes, so does/can human interaction and behavior.

    Well, with one difference (hopefully): This time round, those who do consider breaking good usability rules do so with research into what their users will accept, rather than just blindly follow some random idea, or somebody else’s idea.

    You have this mentality that I’m trying to invent some sort of idea as if I’m creating a breakthrough for website navigation. Which, I have to say, is completely out of the ordinary and out of left field. The point to this discussion is that I’m asking questions along with seeking opinions on this matter. It has nothing to do with it not being “new”. That part doesn’t concern me.

    However, you made a good point that I have agreed with. Research and data is a vital outcome on whether this would be acceptable for usability and user experience.

    Number 1 mistake made by less knowledgeable users/clients: Believing that what they want/prefer is what the majority of users want/prefer. – @deeve007

    You misunderstood. I wasn’t speaking about my site. I was speaking in general terms when a site has a fixed menu it creates a distraction when scrolling to read content. I’m speaking as a user, not a site-owner or for the majority of users.


    Before this gets heated, I think we should focus on what we agree with and then lead to where we disagree. All with healthy discussion of course.

    # April 29, 2013 at 12:33 pm

    The challenge is to design navigation (or anything really) that is familiar, yet unique. As designers, we struggle every day with trying to build something that is constantly trying to be pulled back into line with what else is out there. Just about every client I work with wants some massive homepage slider. I don’t think this always makes sense or works (plus to me it’s so cliche).

    Whenever you deviate from known formulas, the only thing you’ve got to really nail is how intuitive it is. A big part of that is just testing the hell out of it and seeing if people inherently “get” how you are providing a way to move around the site.

    I don’t quite agree that every major alteration has to be made with research. Again, it really depends on the situation, but I think rather you’ve got to make changes with research IN MIND (one says you can only make a move with research, the other says let’s experiment with the goal of seeing what happens). I don’t know if you can realistically push the envelope unless you are willing to take an Indiana Jones style step out on the ledge with a good idea.

    # April 29, 2013 at 12:37 pm

    One other thing to mention about A List Apart. I personally don’t like the navigation and I don’t feel like it’s intuitive. I don’t think it makes a lot of sense on how it works on the homepage versus the other pages.

    But that doesn’t stop me from using it. I’m willing to endure that and just get used to it because I like the content.

    Think about that for a second. The research shows that I’m accepting it. I use it and I like it because I’m a returning visitor that spends a significant amount of time on it. In a vacuum of numbers, I’m a successful test user. But in reality I don’t like it. It’s not comfortable and I’m not more “used to it” as a user of the website.

    # April 29, 2013 at 1:02 pm

    > Human behavior changes all the time.

    Actually, online usability studies have shown time and time again that users have certain expectations, that rather than changing remain fairly static because of more and more websites that we use.

    What is changing is our understanding of user preferences, such as the myth of the “above the fold”, for example.

    >Why is forcing a user to change their pattern wrong?

    Wow. Then myself and most user experience professionals I know can agree to disagree with you.

    Online usability went through the “build it and they will come” phase, and millions upon millions of dollars were pissed up against the wall as a result. Usability professionals eventually realised that for the most part usability had to be driven by what users wanted, not what we believed they wanted. There is a distinct difference.

    Now saying that, a site like ALA can afford to break the rules a little, as it is a site that has a very entrenched readership group who are of very above average technical ability. Though even amongst those users, once you get past the gushing “Oh I love the redesign” comments on their redesign post, raise some of the usability concerns that the menu issue especially brings.

    > Design has done this drastically across many areas.

    Give me some examples… hell, give me just one example, of a drastic usability change that has become “the norm”?

    >You misunderstood. I wasn’t speaking about my site.

    I didn’t say you were.

    > Before this gets heated, I think we should focus on what we agree with and then lead to where we disagree.

    Then you should have stuck with that in the first place. I’ll be looking for your lead on this for future posts.

    >I don’t quite agree that every major alteration has to be made with research.

    For a major site, you’d be a fool to not do extensive research first. You run the very real risk of losing users. And it’s happened on many occasions.

    >Think about that for a second. The research shows that I’m accepting it. I use it and I like it because I’m a returning visitor that spends a significant amount of time on it. In a vacuum of numbers, I’m a successful test user. But in reality I don’t like it. It’s not comfortable and I’m not more “used to it” as a user of the website.

    If I was a betting man (I’m not), I would expect to see a slight redesign over the next 6 months or so, with text size adjusted better for different screen sizes, and the main menu appearing on the homepage at the top, as it already does for inner pages in case you hadn’t noticed.

    The ALA folk ain’t stupid, they know they could experiment a little with their user base, but at the same time they will listen to feedback from their user base too, and there are some smart and constructive comments coming from them via various channels if you look around.

    # April 29, 2013 at 1:14 pm

    You know I was just thinking, all ALA have really done with the menu thing, is recreated the horrible “splash page” period we went through in the early 90s.

    * shudders at the memory *

    # April 29, 2013 at 4:25 pm

    I love this discussion, lets just keep it civil please.

    # April 29, 2013 at 4:44 pm

    > Actually, online usability studies have shown time and time again that users have certain expectations, that rather than changing remain fairly static because of more and more websites that we use.

    Can you elaborate on this?

    > Wow. Then myself and most user experience professionals I know can agree to disagree with you.

    I’m not agreeing or disagreeing with you. I am simply asking why is it wrong to change a user’s pattern?

    > Though even amongst those users, once you get past the gushing “Oh I love the redesign” comments on their redesign post, raise some of the usability concerns that the menu issue especially brings.

    I find that the menu could be more visible but personally don’t find it to be an issue at the bottom. It seems to blend into the page more than it should.

    > Give me some examples… hell, give me just one example, of a drastic usability change that has become “the norm”?

    Back in the flash days, users couldn’t select text to copy/paste, websites were even slower, couldn’t print, etc. It has become the “norm” to advocate against Flash based content and because of that, usability has changed for the better. Remember splash pages? 30 seconds of my life I’ll never get back.

    Oh and what about the physical qwerty keyboard? Touch displays drastically changed that and is actually a bit more difficult to use (in my opinion) but they’ve become incredibly popular and the “norm”.

    > For a major site, you’d be a fool to not do extensive research first. You run the very real risk of losing users. And it’s happened on many occasions.

    I absolutely agree here. Especially when a site profits from their content.

    I think CSS-Tricks is a good example when it comes to UX and usability. I think many of us dislike some of the design decisions that have gone on throughout the years. In fact, I’ve only liked one out all that I’ve seen and been a part of. What keeps me coming back? What makes me deal with my dislike of the layout structure of the content and still come back to read it? This is what I think @JoshWhite is trying to say. We just get used to it. Chris doesn’t do studies from what I understand so with these drastic changes (which were random in the past) and disliked by many, it’s odd that we’re still here. This is what leads me to believe that content is so much more important.

    # April 29, 2013 at 4:52 pm

    > And sites like You Know Who where the main navigation is stuck to the bottom, that’s horrible. It cuts off content when scrolling and becomes a focus point rather than the content.

    I think that nav would be distracting no matter where you put it. It’s huge!

    # April 29, 2013 at 4:52 pm

    @CrocoDillon Haha.

    # April 29, 2013 at 5:20 pm

    Menu placement at the bottom?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R6Mj1Us13Yk

    I’ve already read that article, now I have to scroll down every time I visit.

    # April 29, 2013 at 5:23 pm

    Thing I’ve learnt most from this thread: The importance of usability experts on major websites to lead the design, not the other way round.

    Said my bit, time for some paying work time.

    But never fear, once work load reduces and I get my new site finished and live, the ALA redesign and this discussion is ripe for a blog post on the subject, it’s been very enlightening.

    # April 29, 2013 at 5:40 pm

    I also submitted a Shoptalk question on this subject, so keep eyes/ears pealed for that sometime.

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