Great lessons to be learned here for anybody writing a web app or designing a website.

From GUUUI - Navigation blindness. via asterisk:


In Mark Hurst's opinion designers put too much effort into content organisation and design of navigation systems. Organising a site into sections and subsections does not by itself create a good user experience. What matters is whether users can quickly and easily advance to the next step in the pursuit for their goal. He suggests a three step strategy to design for the click-link-or-hit-back-button behaviour:

1. Identify users' goals on each page
2. De-emphasize or remove any page elements (or areas of a site) that don't help to accomplish the goal
3. Emphasize (or insert) those links, forms, or other elements that either take users closer to their goal, or finally accomplish it.

Mark Hurst also strikes a blow against consistency. In his opinion, it's silly to add navigation elements to a page just because it's consistent with the rest of the site. Consistency should not be the ruling principle. He encourages designers to instead focus on the users' goals and the flow they go through to get there.