"The menu is dead.
Navigation is contextual.
Long live the menu!"
You've seen them, haven't you; lazy websites which make you navigate the website by offering a menu in which they've tried to put a link to every page of the website. Annoying, aren't they?
To us, as cognitive web designers, this design characteristic only serves to say one of two things:
Just as you've never looked at every page of the BBC's website, your Customers have neither the time nor the inclination to look at every page on your website - no matter how good it is. Your Customers know what they're after and it's up to you to show them how to get it as simply as possible.
Let's take the BBC's website - do you think visitors to Radio 1's website will generally be interested in what's taking place on Radio 4? Of course not, so why bother building a website navigation menu that shows all the things the BBC is doing.
We fiercely maintain our core belief that a hit website articulates your business proposition - no business is too big or too complex to be broken down into simple to understand bite-size chunks. Take our business for example; we put ourselves through our own web design process and discovered our 6 core dimensions which, when taken together, express everything our business 'is' and 'does'.
We've taken our 6 core dimensions and turned them into a simple menu; the rest of the links that make up the navigation are contextual - links appear to pages that we feel you're likely to be interested in and would want to click next. It's unlikely that if you're reading about PHP code you're going to want to read about our cognitive ethos because you'd probably like to see an example of our PHP code in action.
Don't ever think your business is too complicated to be clearly articulated in just the one website. The BBC have been able to do it so too have Apple.
Apple is the one website which, when we ask which website our Customers like, comes back as an answer time after time. Customers tell us they like it because it's clean and easy to use. Apple has a massively complicated business model but this doesn't stop them from having a simple business website. We can all learn from Apple's example so how do they do it?
Apple is one of the best corporates at marketing itself and its products, the company is almost indistinguishable from its products. Despite the size and complexity of the business they really only have one domain and the navigation of this website is entirely contextual. The Apple brand rapidly subdivides into distinct business units which go way beyond hardware and software divisions:
Each Apple product or service line has its own brand identity - one thing you'll never see Apple do is lump everything it manufactures in a menu titled "Products" or put all its senior management biographies in a menu titled "About Us". When you browse Apple's website you're browsing more than just their products and services you're browsing and absorbing their culture. Sub@omic maintains that a website articulates your business proposition and Apple's website is a great example of a website that does just that.