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Designing Web Navigation by James Kalbach

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Chapter 10. Presentation

"Clutter and confusion are failures of design, not attributes of information."

Edward Tufte Envisioning Information

People like context-rich information. How we find, organize, and even understand information is influenced by how it's displayed. Content that is presented with color, texture, and style has relevance to our work and to our lives. The visual treatment of navigation is not merely a "nice-to-have," but crucial to its perception and use. It can be the difference between usable and not usable, between credible and not credible, or between found and not-found.

In determining how to present navigation, the design process once again proves to be multidisciplinary. You must bring together divergent perspectives from team members and reconcile differences. Clear goals and a solid navigation concept help build a common understanding, but you can still expect conflicting opinions at this stage.

The visual presentation of navigation is also interdependent on other aspects of its design, such as navigation types, labels, and page layout. This means going back and forth between elements of your navigation and making compromises as needed. The maximum number of horizontal tabs, for instance, depends on the font size, labeling, position, and spacing of options. This, in turn, must synch up with the architecture of the site. Navigation design is never a linear process from beginning to end.

The overall aim of the Presentation phase is to visually guide visitors ...

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