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Forcing People Back Up A Level In The Navigation

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#1 Adrian


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Posted Yesterday, 10:41 AM

I've just come out of a meeting where we discussed the organisation of content on our web site.

It's something that's needed reviewing, a load of content has been added without too much pausing for breath to decide how to organise it.  One of the points was that in some places we have very long lists of nav options so we're looking to cut that down a bit with some sub-categories.


The web site is at http://www.somerseti...ligence.org.uk/ and the particular section of interest is the Health & Wellbeing section.  This is an informational content site run by the public sector.  It's job is to publish all sorts of stats and intelligence/insight about the people of a specific geographic area (Somerset) for use within the public sector but also for members of the public, voluntary sector and potentially private business as well.  We cover the usual demographic type information but have also expanded a lot with a variety of pages covering a multitude of health issues.


At the moment if you go to the Health and Wellbeing page there is a very long list of pages within that section, some of which are parents to more pages as well.


There is a suggestion to reorganise this long list into about 5 sub-categories and each sub-category would contain individual pages only, there would not be more sub-sub-categories below them.


The question is, one of these 5 sub-categories is already likely to have a fairly long list of pages within it and the way we've traditionally set the web site up, all these pages would appear in the left hand nav.  The suggestion is not to to do that and I'm pondering the usability impact of that.


I'm open to the idea, my only concern is that when say someone has gone from the home page --> Health & Wellbeing --> Conditions & Diseases (terminology may change) --> Mental Health and read the content we have there about mental health issues, in order to even know what else is in the Conditions & Diseases sub-category they would need to go back up a level of navigation.


This isn't like going from a list of products, looking at one individually and then going back to the list to find another one, it's hopefully, but not necessarily, consuming the content and then looking for more around the same idea.  So if interested in Mental Health, there are also pages with information on autism for example.


I've started pondering ideas like 'related pages' or a more functional footer with better signposting to other content (though then we're talking larger changes to the functionality of the web site) but wondering what people may think of the above from a usability perspective.  



#2 iamlost


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Posted Yesterday, 11:18 AM

I have an architecture/user logic problem with the proposed idea. To suddenly switch from categories to something else halfway  into a site will be confusing.

To use your example you are going Conditions & Diseases --> Mental Health BUT then having to backtrack up and out of the overarching term (aka category) to get to a specific MH issue. NOT a viable architecture.

My thoughts on how to ameliorate:
Conditions and Diseases is one huge catch all. Probably too large. I'd either (1) keep it but give it 3-5 subcategories such as Mental Health or (2) remove it entirely as existing only as a container and replace it with the 3-5 mentioned in 1.

Then, depending on how many 'conditions and diseases' are in each I'd do either:
* much as W3C use a page anchor list of terms with a short 1/2 sentence description/definition (for those who do not know the correct term) and then folks can click way down the page to read and with a return to top link at end of each content chunk pop back up to read.

* use an horizontal alpha letter list (A, B, C...I-K depending on entries) that opens a linked list similar to first suggestion above that allows the user to pop down and back directly.

Of course the removal of sub-categories will lead to potentially very long pages. Not a problem unless you know that a significant number of users have slower connections.
Note: I notice that the site is not optimised for smaller screen devices. If not planning to change that then you should consider how the site can best be navigated by that increasing user base.

Regardless you need be consistent both in architecture and navigation. That is critical. So how you decide to renovate Health & Wellbeing must be identical to other sections of site. Keep it simple, don't confuse the sheeple.

#3 glyn


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Posted Yesterday, 12:05 PM

I think that this needs to be completely reordered into proper categories that mean something to people. What I see here is a website that reads like a reference index, but not as something for people to use. I've said this in another post but, Ajax Search Pro, on the front end, with keyword topical suggestions. I would retag the content on the website using tags and groups those into categories that can be of interest to your audiences: Journalists (stats), Care Givers. I'd look in Google Analytics at paths of engaged users or users that arrived from qualified sources, for example you can make inferences about the traffic type by the source that sends it. These could give you ideas about what content people are looking at and then how to group them into areas and apply a tag to them.


I don't really understand the function of the website (as yo can probably see), but Analytics will tell you.



#4 earlpearl


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Posted Yesterday, 07:54 PM

As with Glyn, I'm confused about the site also.  I've seen sites like this in the states.  What comes to mind are sites developed by jurisdictions such as cities and counties.   They have such diverse content and clearly what is prepared for some readers is not relevant to other readers.  


For instance from a business perspective I've looked at economic and development data and skipped everything that is relevant to residents or people who might want to move, shop, or dine or find out about health resources and general conditions.  I never look at any of the latter.


Or vice versa.


As Glyn suggested I'd do a lot of interior analysis with regard to how visitors use the site.  Some little pieces of information are invaluable ie location data against use data for instance.  Out of towners might be looking at completely different pages than natives.


In that context should you find patterns among users the idea of referencing other useful pages in footers or elsewhere might be an extremely functional application.


But I'd look at user patterns first.

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