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Designing Web Navigation by James Kalbach

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Chapter 7. Analysis

"People don't want to buy a quarter-inch drill. They want a quarter-inch hole!"

Professor Theodore Levitt, Harvard University

It's tempting to dive into the details of a design as soon as the project starts. People will start talking about button placement, labels, and even color as soon as a project begins. Resist this urge. Understand the problem first. The amount and type of analysis you perform at the outset will influence navigation design throughout the project. It's like hitting a golf ball: the slightest deviation up front has a huge effect on the final trajectory.

Having a clear and early understanding of the problem generally saves time and money in the long run. A common vision can short-circuit unnecessary debates or avoid major changes later on. When you hear the term "analysis," you may envision an unnecessarily long "discovery" phase. Don't be put off. Analysis need not be time-consuming or costly, and documentation doesn't have to be overwhelming. Focus on the key points:

  • Business goals

  • Content

  • Technology

  • Users

Good navigation design is not just about providing links to pages. It's about coordinating goals, content, technology, and user needs into a cohesive user experience. This chapter examines each area and offers some advice to help you analyze the broader context that will frame your entire approach to navigation design.

BUSINESS GOALS

Commercial businesses ultimately want to be profitable, of course, but even nonprofit organizations, governmental ...

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