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What is navigation?

Navigation is used to describe how a user travels through a software application or system in order to find the information or service he is looking for. Many applications have a navigation bar in which the individual pages are categorized so that they can be found easily.

How does navigation affect user experience?

The easier it is for a user to navigate through a website or software application, the faster he will find what he is looking for. When navigation is optimized, user frustration can be minimized and conversion rates are often increased. Many websites, especially retail websites include numerous links towards the sales section to ensure that the navigation paths to those pages are optimized, which also increases conversion rates.

How to test navigation

Card sorting can be a useful first test to optimize navigation. With card sorting, participants are asked to structure a list of categories in an order that makes sense to them. This is especially useful for those creating a navigation bar, as it can help designers create headings and categories for different navigation links. Once a navigation bar has been implemented in a prototype or a final product, usability testing can be carried out in person or remotely. Eye and mouse-tracking devices are often used in this form of usability testing, as these can be used to see which elements people focus and click on. When test users hover too long on a particular button, or often have to use the back button, navigation may need to be optimized. With optimized navigation, users will have a more intuitive and positive user experience.

Related terms

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