In our last post, we explored some of the ways in which it is possible to design your site’s navigation with human and social psychology in mind. Dr. Susan Weinschenk (PhD) produced 10 broad principles of UX design with people’s mental and psychological reactions in mind, and we looked at how the first few of these could be applied when designing site navigation.

Information architecture, breadcrumb navigation, and personalisation all came up—so what else can we learn?

People are easily distracted. Grabbing their attention is key to designing an engaging UX. Making something different within a UX will stand out.

This all has to do with attention spans. Estimates show that most people’s attention spans last no longer than 8 seconds. Lindsey Bowshier (Tribute Media) puts forward “the seven second test” made up of four questions users should be able to answer within seven seconds of landing on a page:

  • What is this site about?
  • Does it capture my interest?
  • What am I supposed to do?
  • Do I want to share this experience?

Designing site navigation with these questions in mind is easier said than done. Minimalist sites are a particularly good source of inspiration in this department, as they do a good job of reducing all the necessary information and navigational elements to their most fundamental features.

Take the example of They lead with some large text (“We handcraft apps”) punctuated by a list of the specific work they do (iOS development, OpenGL, wireframes etc). This immediately tells a visitor what the site is about, and leaves them the option to scroll down for more information. They then use four basic navigation elements at the top right of the page (works, story, contact, blog), giving users options and a hint as to what they’re supposed to look at. Right at the bottom of the page, visitors are given links to the relevant social media pages.

Most mental processing occurs subconsciously, and the emotional brain is affected by pictures and stories.

You need to appeal not only to the logical parts of the brain, which seek certain information and apply certain rules to navigation. You also need to engage people’s emotions by giving them something to connect to on a deeper level. We’ve talked about this before in terms of giving your site some personality, but how do you make this work when it comes to navigation?

One site that does this particularly well is Avaaz. Avaaz are a campaigning organisation that try to act as a focal point for people and communities to organise their own movements and petitions to effect social change.

Their homepage navigation is story oriented: a live feed of petition-signers runs past on the right, while a “highlights” element tells a short story about “the biggest climate march in history” with a photo and an option to “see more highlights” below that. Next to that is a “take action now” box which tells a story about endangered elements and includes a call for visitors to take action.

This is highly emotive navigation design and ensures visitors check out the most important pages. How are you going to design your navigation to fit user’s psychological wants and needs?

Artwork, illustrations & infographics

Illustrations and infographics are a great way to get instant visual engagement, but they require clarity, purpose and accuracy to shine and stand out from the rest.

More about Web Illustrations

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