The way that website visitors are led to tasks is fundamental to website design. Home page layout must be simple and clear and provide easy access to tasks users are looking for. The same goes for service landing pages, since many website visitors bypass the home page, arriving on a specific page via a search engine like Google.
Better connected believes the ‘top tasks’ approach to navigation to be critical to achieving a high quality online experience.
Sites were tested with two questions indicative of how well they have adopted this approach. These assess the design of the home page and the consistency of the design on landing pages. Many websites are too cluttered and complicated to apply the 'top tasks' concept effectively.
The other factor used for assessing the quality of navigation was the reviewer rating of their experience navigating the site across the various tasks tested.
According to these criteria, 37% met the standard, up from last year’s 33%.
A series of supplementary questions (not used in the calculation of site ranking) were used to highlight good and poor practice.
- List of commonly used tasks available on the home page (Q179)
- Top task navigation applied beyond the home page (Q180)
- Navigation of top tasks rated very good or satisfactory
|Navigation (% pass)||37%||59%||33%||50%||34%||44%||41%||30%|
KEY CC = County Council, SD = Shire district, LB = London borough, MD = Metropolitan district, EU = English unitary, WU = Welsh unitary, SU = Scottish unitary, NI = Northern Ireland district
Easy 'top tasks' navigation is hampered where:
- Top tasks are not integral to the design of service landing pages.
- Too many navigational devices are used.
- There is insufficient care taken with naming of links and tasks.
- The Local Government Navigation List (LGNL) continues to be used as a navigation mechanism (SNL in Scotland).
- ‘Pay for it, Report it, Apply for it’ labels are used, which are inappropriate for desktop navigation.
- Too much prime space is devoted to news, events and press releases.
- Navigation elements appears 'below-the-fold'.
- Tasks appear in hovering menus.
- Carousels are misused as navigational devices.
Better connected reviewers found that council websites have at least two navigational devices on the home page excluding use of search and A to Z index. The average is over four for each site, and eleven sites have 10 or more different navigational devices on the home page, causing clutter and confusion.
Do you do digital? (Socitm Insight, April 2014) includes advice about home page presentation and provides a ‘vanilla’ home page design for desktop and mobile. However, it warns: Don’t rely on what has worked for others… test, test and test again with real users and play close attention to immediate, online survey feedback of the user experience.
Reviewer 1: Many sites promote some top tasks on home pages but did not do a very good job at promoting top tasks on landing pages.
Reviewer 2: Home pages often had lots of different navigation options rather than genuinely focusing on top topics and top tasks.
Reviewer 3: Many councils have just slapped tasks on the front page but the landing pages do not continue this focus.
Reviewer 4: Too many sites still have too many competing navigational approaches on the home page. One simple, consistent method of getting to tasks, within categories, is all that is required – less is more.
Reviewer 5: News still dominates in many places.
Sites that we recommend
Adur & Worthing
Argyll & Bute
East Riding of Yorkshire
Hinckley & Bosworth BC
North Yorkshire CC