About Design and Navigation

Yesterday’s post generated some very thought provoking replies and I thought that I’d clump them together in a post rather than write a bunch of replies.

To begin with, thank you for the replies.

Upon rereading my post for the umpteenth time, I guess I wasn’t clear in my thoughts about navigation.  In my mind, as I was writing the post, I had the two concepts walking hand in hand.  Everyone was absolutely correct in your thoughts about navigation.  I remember once hearing someone indicate that a website should be broader than it is deep.  By that, he was indicating that you shouldn’t have to drill down too far to find what you’re looking for; that proper concept management keeps the site shallow.

The rule of thumb given to us was to design your website so that it’s no more than three layers deep.  It’s all about ease of finding something and the stickiness to keep people on your site so that they don’t go looking for content elsewhere.  So, doing a little math, if you have five top left items, they each could spawn three levels and then those levels could each generate three more.  I think it’s a good piece of logic; it requires the developer to look at thing critically and perhaps even to remove some content instead of constantly adding to it.  Bottom line is the ease that it’s going to take visitors to find what they’re looking for.

Andy and Brandon, I do agree that responsive/adaptive is a good way to go, particularly for those of us who are our own web development team.  It absolutely was one of the things that helped me make the decision when I wanted a theme change.  In a world where you have a full-fledged team doing development, attention to a mobile specific version would be worth it.  I agree with Andy, in my one person enterprise, I don’t have the people power to create an m-dot version.  Heck, there are days when the staff here can’t even keep the pace with whatever I’m going.  As for the double tap on the iPod to expand, Andy, I don’t consider that making a website mobile friendly.  I don’t think that you can ask all of your visitors to use some control on their device to see your website.

Lisa, Alfred and Brandon’s comments tweaked me the same way.  There was a time when if you had Internet Explorer and Firefox on your computer, you could universally test every experience that a visitor could have.  I remember a long, long time ago before I got my iPod, I had downloaded an iPod simulator where you could play before you buy and I used it to test to see what a website might look like on an iPod.  Today, you might consider a browser like the Atomic Web Browser which lets you change the browser identified by editing the User Agent.

Add a Custom User Agent for your desired version.  Or, change it right in your browser as shown here.  There are also browser extensions for at least Google Chrome and Firefox to do the same thing.

Brandon, thanks for the reference to http://960.gs.  That may well turn out to be a very helpful tool some day.  And, the hotdog reference is more fun than the hamburger one.  I kept wondering – is that a Papa Burger or Teen Burger or…

One more for Brandon – I would consider it very inconvenient if the same content on the mobile site is different from the regular site.  I’m sure that the owner would be appreciative of being informed if it wasn’t.

And, the million dollar question goes to Lisa.  How did YOUR blog hold up to display on a portable device?

Thanks, everyone for your thoughts.  It was a great discussion.

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