UI/UX Development Tip 10: Flatter Navigation is Better Than Deeper Navigation

26 Apr. 22
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For your information hierarchy strategy, flat navigation and deep navigation should be considered.

Flat navigation has fewer layers (usually 1-3) in the information hierarchy and more navigation points overall. Deep navigation, on the other hand, has many layers (often 1-3) and more navigation points.

Complex websites can be information-heavy. Deep navigation is a good way to organize complex information. However, it does have its drawbacks. A flat navigation hierarchy is preferred because it’s faster and easier to use.

 

Flatter Navigation Consolidates pages by using Vertical Real Estate

 

Consolidating pages and using vertical real estate has one key benefit: navigation is made easier.

We’ve already stated in another post that web pages are more often scanned than reading. Users want to be able to quickly scan the web and locate relevant information. Flat navigation allows this. Although individual pages may be longer than others, this is advantageous because related content can be broken up into different sections that can easily be scanned. This eliminates the need for navigation to separate sections. Each section would require its own page.

Today, we see many 1 page websites that actually have 7 pages or sections. If you use deep navigation, there are seven pages to navigate through and it takes longer for the content to be accessible.

The combination of pages with related content can help to remove layers from the navigational hierarchy. This can often increase usability. We recommend that you think about how to group similar content in vertically longer pages, rather than simply splitting the content into several pages. You don’t need to create multiple pages when one page can be easily scanned and rich in connected information. The bottom line is that more pages with related content can result in less navigation.

 

Flat Navigation Reduces Layers and More Pages

 

Speed is one of the benefits of reducing navigation layers and pages. Users will find it easier to navigate to the layers they are interested in by reducing the number of layers. Users can find the information they are looking for quickly by reducing the steps required to locate a page.

Websites with flat navigation may have only one layer of navigation. Websites with deep navigation may have more layers and possibly even more pages. Deep navigation hierarchy has the biggest drawback: it can take many steps to get to a new page.

These steps can take some time. It takes on average 6 seconds for a page to reload each time it is refreshed. To find the content they are looking for, it could take up to five clicks. Users could be asked to wait for up to 30 seconds to find the page they need.

Web design is moving towards creating strong first and secondary layers. Search and filter functions allow for deeper access to specific content.

The homepage is the website’s first layer. It allows users to quickly access the second layer. A website’s homepage with flat navigation allows users to see a sitemap that shows the various categories. They can hover over the various navigation elements to see all of the pages on the site, without having to click through to find what they are looking for.

Flat navigation does not have to include a lot of pages. Mega menus allow users to choose from many options, including dozens of choices organized into different categories and each with its own page. Users can navigate quickly to the page they are interested in without having to refresh the page.

 

Flat/Less Navigation Contributes More to the Variety Of Ways People Find and Hone Info

 

Your navigation hierarchy will be more intuitive if you cater to how people find and use information. Deep navigation assumes that people will only browse for your content. However, having less navigation recognizes the fact that users use search engines and internal web pages to find what they are looking for.

Take Fresh Consulting’s website as an example. This shows the many ways that a user can find information. One user can search Google for web applications services at Fresh Consulting and get taken to the page. You can also search our blog and filter our portfolio to find a specific example you want to share. They might click on a link or go directly to a page from another site or ad. They may find related information on nearly all pages ( services portfolio technology and bio pages) that they are not able to see in the navigation. They might scan the footer or one section of our homepage and then go to another page. As an example, we haven’t discussed the 1st and 2nd levels of navigation in our mega-menu as the best way to find what they’re looking for.

There are many ways to get to a website. Your homepage and top navigation are not the only places you can access. It is not safe to assume they will follow your hierarchy. You’ll make it easier for people to access the mechanisms that they use, or wish to use, by allowing them to navigate less manually.

However, flat navigation must still make it easy to find content. megamenu is a drop-down interface that allows users to navigate to subpages. This can reduce cognitive load when it comes to finding a particular page. Users can hover over mega menus and choose from drop-down menus to directly access the page that they want.

 

Flat Navigation Requires Fewer Inputs in Order to Get Content

 

It makes your website easier and faster to use by requiring less user input. You should still allow users the ability to search, filter, or scan for what they are looking for.

Clicks are one form of input. Although clicks are an integral part of surfing the web, they can negatively impact usability. Usability is especially affected by clicks that require page refreshes. Clicking is expensive because it takes time and effort to navigate to the information you are searching for.

Flat navigation allows users to reach their destination in less time. The homepage was designed by the Fresh website with one goal in mind: to make it easier for users to locate specific services. Clicking on the Services tab in the main navigation will bring up a huge menu. Hover allows you to view all site options in one interface.

Site visitors can hover over the Services tab at top of the page to see all 15 services we offer without having to navigate back. A website’s flat navigation hierarchy does not mean you have to lose or minimize content. It is simply a better way to allow users to find what they are most interested in.

Most people are searching for the fastest and most efficient route to get what they need. Flat navigation hierarchies are a great way to speed up the turnaround time by requiring fewer inputs.

 

Summary

 

These are the benefits of a flat navigation hierarchy: Flat navigation hierarchy

  1. Consolidates pages to maximize the use of the vertical real estate
  2. Reduce layers and pages
  3. This guide will help you to understand the many ways that people can find and use information.
  4. Users are required to provide less input, which can lead to lower usability.

You may be able to choose between deep or flat navigation depending on the purpose of your site. We recommend flat navigation, taking into account UX best practices as well as emerging trends in web design.

 

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