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SIGIA-L Mail Archives: Re: SIGIA-L: Global nav during a process?

Re: SIGIA-L: Global nav during a process?

From: Betsy Martens (
Date: Mon Jul 23 2001 - 14:59:47 EDT

But ... like so many situations, it totally depends. The best example of
this that I can think of comes from my experience working on a travel
reservation site. Whenever you tap into the central airline reservation
system (CRS), the clock starts ticking on your session. There is a limit
the amount of time you have between the start of your process and the
purchase. In order to encourage the user to move with purpose through this
process, you are actually serving the user best if you remove as many
distractions as possible, including the global nav. We used to speak of
as "the tunnel" because once in, there's only one way out. Of course, you
can always cancel, use the back button, etc, but the message to the user
to conduct business with all due concentration and speed. The alternative
for the user to take his time, then execute the purchase, only to be
informed that their session has expired and that that seat is no longer
available. Now *that* sucks.

This is one of those cases where the dictates of one business (airline
reservations and the need for a central reservation system) tend to
over the needs of another (the travel site that interfaces with the
and needs to provide a top-notch user experience in order to retain market
share). And frankly, it's hard to see how -- even with the entry of
competing CRS vendors like Amadeus to challenge Sabre -- the reality of
making airline reservations could change much. This is because, in
you've got users all over the world bidding on a finite number of seats.

Caveat in advance: I've greatly simplified the questions involved. Still,
this may be a case where the best way to serve the user is by limiting her

Betsy Martens
Information Architect
Big Shoulders Information Design

Here's what Harland, Dave said on 7/23/01 1:00 PM:

> If your solution is truly "usage-based", you must choose the latter.
> to pigeon-hole users into a process is usually the solution for poor
> design.
> -Dave
>> From:
>> Date: Mon, 23 Jul 2001 12:58:54 -0400
>> To:
>> Subject: SIGIA-L: Global nav during a process?
>> Hi all -
>> Here's a thorny problem I've run across many times and now face yet
>> I'd love to hear ideas, opinions, and data.
>> The question: Should global navigation (in this case, the top levels of
>> hierarchical nav) appear on the page when the user is within a process
>> (anything from email newsletter sign-up to search to checkout)?
>> On one side:
>> - Reducing "interruptability." If a user is within a transaction, don't
>> distract them with global nav that isn't relevant to the task. Let them
>> explicitly cancel the task to return to the non-process state.
>> - Real estate. Processes like checkout often require more screen real
>> estate, which global nav can sometimes hog.
>> On the other side:
>> - Escape hatch. On the Web, users leave a process not through
>> but by simply going somewhere else. Global nav should always be there
>> that users have control.
>> - Consistency. If the global nav appears and disappears throughout the
>> experience, it's less reliable and learnable, and potentially
>> I'm trying to pose the question in a neutral way so as not to reveal my
>> bias. :-)
>> steve

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