The Information Architecture (IA) and navigation of University websites using EdGEL has been informed by consultation and research, and are specified with the aim of achieving consistency of user experience across the web presence.
Navigational design has evolved over an period of time (beginning before the development or EdWeb and EdGEL) and informed by:
This will continue to evolve in line with the requirements of content structures and our continuing research into how key target audiences interact with the website, particularly on small screen devices.
Our aim is to ensure that a user always knows:
Adopting the design elements of EdGEL that make up the 'frame' of the page, but then changing the naure of the interaction is possibly the most disruptive and damaging thing a designer can do to the overall website user experience.
If it looks the same it should behave the same. Introducing new conventions for established elements causes confusion.
Users spend most of their time on other sites. This means that users prefer your site to work the same way as all the other sites they already know.
This rule is equally true in the context of the user experience on the University of Edinburgh website. Our analytics studies looking at prospective students of specific disciplines showed that even they spent more time elsewhere on the University site than on the subsite directly relevant to their area of study interest.
The global header persists across all pages on all websites. Its behaviour and presentation is always the same:
The local header is presented below the global header, and is unique to a particular subsite. Its behaviour and presentation is persistent across that subsite:
The 'focused' approach to our website's navigation was chosen because:
Detailed examples of navigational behaviour are presented in the website IA guidelines.
In addition to the navigation menu, the main body of the page contains:
The footer is presented consistently across a subsite, and therefore should contain content and links that are relevant on any page.
Unlike the subsite banner, the content of the subsite footer doesn't need to be unique, and may be repeated across a number of subsites all associated with the same organisational unit (for example, a school and its research groups or subject areas).
The global footer persists across all pages on all websites. Its behaviour and presentation is always the same, although where a website does not comply with the privacy and cookies policies, it should provide a locally managed statement instead.
For more detail on the points summarised here and more, refer to the University website IA guidelines.