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Where should navigation go?
An intriguing question that emerged in a conversation with Count Feenstra.
He is a Frisian gentleman who asked me once to develop an HTML course.
That training was a success.
The Count is now a certified HTML developer.
He has scribbled his own
Count Feenstra site
(hertogfeenstra.nl, sorry all Dutch).
I'm wandering from my subject. The count has his navbar at the right hand side, against the main stream. Most sites have a left aligned navigation rail. Is that reason enough to blindly follow the masses?
No, me, myself and I don't have a lot of confidence in the collective intelligence of large groups. The masses are often wrong. Bad design can become standard (www.useit.com/alertbox/991114.html). And nobody will bother to wonder and ponder about it any more.
The Win 3.x File manager had a tree structure on the left hand side for navigating trough the directories. So did the explorers in Windows '95, '98 and NT. Harly any individual still wonders about the quality of that design. Well, the explorer even has a special page in the Interface Hall of Shame (.../shame.htm). That should tell you enough.
Still follow the crowds, says Jakob Nielsen, as that is what your readers are used to.
Why bother your visitors wit a new style of design?
Jakob is right, especially for commercial sites.
But isn't the web the biggest collection of pig headed individuals? There are lots of avant garde sites, who can safely explore useful an useless things.
Monty Python, Life of Brian,
One example is the Looka! weblog
(www.gumbopages.com/looka), with indeed a right aligned navigation bar.
There are a number of reasons to go against the wind, an aligning the nav bar right, preferably without a tree structure.
· April 2000
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