The SpoolCast with Jared Spool

The SpoolCast has been bringing UX learning to designers’ ears around the world since 2005. Dozens and dozens of hours of Jared Spool interviewing some of the greatest minds in design are available for you to explore.

Episode #101 Hagan Rivers’ Escaping Navigation Hell, Live!

June 11, 2010  ·  20 minutes

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Web applications can get wild. You know the kind; something that's on your corporate intranet with an obscure purpose, hundreds of screens and some kind of navigation kudzu growing in every direction. Hagan Rivers is one of our favorite wranglers of such apps.

Listen to a sample of Hagan's Escaping Navigation Hell from the Web App Masters Tour in this episode of the SpoolCast.

Show Notes

Web applications can get wild. You know the kind; something that's on your corporate intranet with an obscure purpose, hundreds of screens and some kind of navigation kudzu growing in every direction. Hagan Rivers is one of our favorite wranglers of such apps. When these types of applications have reached the critical point, companies turn to her to help regain the upper hand.

So what do you do with navigation that is out of control? Hagan brings her pruning shears. That's one of her three crazy ideas about conquering out-of-control navigation: design without navigation!

Hagan is always a crowd favorite at our conferences, and we wanted to share with you a sample of her presentation, Escaping Navigation Hell, from the 2010 UIE Web App Masters Tour. Listen in and follow along with the downloadable slide deck, or check out some highlights below.

Crazy Idea #1: Design Without Navigation

  • Design screens in the application without the navigation system.
  • Hagan builds and tests the screens without the navigation.
  • She concentrates her energy on the tasks that are performed within that function of the application.

Crazy Idea #2: Navigation in an Application

  • Treat navigation as its own application, with its own requirements and goals.
  • If your application is going to be complex, so likely too will your navigation.
  • Design it as a functioning whole and test it that way.

Crazy Idea #3: Design Navigation Last

  • Design navigation systems last, separating them from the rest of the application design.
  • It's easier to design the nav last because you'll have a better picture of what your users will need to navigate.

30k view

  • When starting redesign projects, Hagan maps out the existing site she'll be overhauling.
  • Get a "big picture" of all that the application does.

Screen Tagging

  • To identify components of the application, she has a fixed set of descriptive tags she uses to label each node on the map.