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Designing Web Navigation by James Kalbach

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Chapter 9. Layout

"Less isn't more; just enough is more."

Milton Glaser

Navigation provides the narrative through your site. It's the story people follow to get the information they want. If the navigation concept is your premise and the site structure is your plot, you start telling the story with page layout. Some of the same principles of writing a good story hold true in designing navigation:

  • Focus on one idea per web page.

  • Keep extra details to a minimum.

  • Hold the user's attention.

  • Use visuals to enhance.

Ultimately, you want to create a flow in navigating through the entire site. In terms of page layout, this means you have to consider how your system of pages varies the position of navigation, labels, and function from page to page. A significant part of orientation while navigating is about how pages change from one to another, referred to as transitional volatility (see Chapter 2). Layout plays a large role in creating this desired sense of movement through a site, in addition to a page's labels and text.

Within the overall site development process, laying out pages proves to be a critical phase. It's at this point that people react to the design—more so than at previous stages. When the page layouts start to appear, conflicting perspectives from various project members become apparent. A systematic approach helps avoid unnecessary debates based on personal opinion and keeps your story on track.

There are three main areas of concern in the layout process:

Determining navigation ...

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