Global Navigation for World Domination


The Battle-Plan for the Consumer's Mind: Global Navigation

I am thoroughly enjoying reading "Card Sorting" by Donna Spencer and any one who want to call themself an IA or UX person had better read it.  And it got me thinking about how I use card sorting in helping to construct global navigation.

That is why I want to share the above diagram. The above diagram is what I call a T-Based Classification System.   T-Based means Thesaurus based. It used the cards sort, but isn't the direct result of a card sort.

I first learned about Thesuarui when I served as a guinea pig for Samantha Bailey. She was doing some guest lectures and then doing a workshop at a conference and was working out some in-class projects for people to understand about thesauri, synonym rings, and controlled vocabularies.  I was hooked from then on.

The thing I loved about it was that it was a coherent system.  And that is what you you see above.  A coherent system.  Not just a bunch of words or labels.  But a "WHOLE" a system that makes sense with internal logic (and hopefully external logic to the real world.)

The above was and is the basis for the global navigation for MY FORD, which is now, almost 10 years later "Ford Owners Garage."  If you go to the site today the global navigation has recently changed (as users and the context has changed), but you can still see the skeleton of the concept. That it lasted almost 10 years I think is testiment to how well thought out the original idea was.

In meeting with clients I always like to talk about Information Architectures as "The Battle Plans for the Consumers Mind." And as such I want it to make sense to the consumer.  I want a consumer to look at a global navigation and get a good sense of the scope or breath of what they can find in that site, of the offerings of that company, division, or brand.  If not - then I haven't done my job.

That is why global navigation is key. It is the key symbol of a brand.  That is why a company's online presence is so important.  That global navigation should have weeks and months of thinking behind it.  It is the key synthesizing symbol for the product, company, or brand that that website is telling the story of. (Side note: Key Symbols is a very useful concept that comes from "On Key Symbols" 1973 by Sherry Ortner, one of my top 10 favorite articles of all time.)

I hope you see that your global navigation should be a well crafted and deliberate strategy, or as I put it battle-plan for the consumer's mind. I would like to invite you to try to take the last global navigation you worked on (or perhaps you are working on) and try to fit it into my T-based classification system. Most importantly it might help you see categories that are missing. At the least it will give you another way to validate your global navigation.

Lastly, if you'd like to try it and send the results to me I'll gladly look it over and offer suggestions.

And yes, this is how to validate your global navigation in regards to Commandment #10 from my earlier post.

Good luck!


Sherry Ortner, "On Key Symbols," American Anthropologist 75 (1973), pp. 1338- 1346

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© Dennis Schleicher Jr 2017.


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