By Alex Franklin
Too often navigation menus become cluttered with stale or irrelevant links or over-crowded with so much information the user is unable to find what they need or follow an easy journey to the destination they require.
SharePoint generally provides two main methods of navigation:
Global Navigation is usually placed at the top of the screen within your sites (like most public websites) and tends to be consistent throughout the environment you are in (for example, an intranet or document management system). Navigation here should be kept to the key locations that users need quick and easy access to. Try not to overload this area with too many links, or you risk creating a scenario where you cannot “see the wood for the trees”.
Many historical platforms have used cascading menus, where you click an initial link for a subject area, then hover over an option, where you are then presented with a third list of options to click (sometimes this extends further). In modern environments where a tidier structure is required, many organisations prefer the use of “megamenus” to allow a higher amount of information to be presented to users in a single view, without the need to “think” about where they need to go to access the area or content required. Microsoft recently released this capability out-of-the-box for SharePoint Online Modern sites, as the example to the right shows. This capability can also be achieved through minor design customisation within SharePoint “Classic” sites.
Current (or Contextual) Navigation
This is usually placed in the left-hand pane of the window of the site you are in, and will differ from site to site, as the links presented are relevant to your current location. For example, accessing a Marketing site from the Global Navigation may then present you with options on the left that take you to key information within that site such as branding materials, case studies and social media sources. Switching over to a Finance site will then present links to information related to time & expense policies, or financial information relevant to “me”.
Current Navigation is usually visible on all pages within that site in SharePoint.
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Consistent and useful navigation is a key element of a robust Information Architecture and is essential to the management and on-going growth of your platform. However, whilst there are principles to follow, remember that there is no single right answer for everyone. What’s important is what’s right for you.
Here at Cielo Costa, we have highly qualified experts, advisors, architects and developers who can help construct and tailor the experience according to your specific business needs. Get in touch with us and find out how we can help.