Jeremy Keith

Jeremy Keith

Making websites. Writing books. Hosting a podcast. Speaking at events. Living in Brighton. Working at Clearleft. Playing music. Taking photos. Answering email.

Journal 2922 sparkline Links 9716 sparkline Articles 82 sparkline Notes 6743 sparkline

Friday, November 25th, 2022

Checked in at The Winding Stair. Stopping for lunch in Dublin before flying home — with Jessica map

Checked in at The Winding Stair. Stopping for lunch in Dublin before flying home — with Jessica

Tweaking navigation sizing

Gerry talks about “top tasks” a lot. He literally wrote the book on it:

Top tasks are what matter most to your customers.

Seems pretty obvious, right? But it’s actually pretty rare to see top tasks presented any differently than other options.

Look at the global navigation on most websites. Typically all the options are given equal prominence. Even the semantics under the hood often reflect this egalitarian ideal, with each list in an unordered list. All the navigation options are equal, but I bet that the reality for most websites is that some navigation options are more equal than others.

I’ve been guilty of this on The Session. The site-wide navigation shows a number of options: tunes, events, discussions, etc. Each one is given equal prominence, but I can tell you without even looking at my server logs that 90% of the traffic goes to the tunes section—that’s the beating heart of The Session. That’s why the home page has a search form that defaults to searching for tunes.

I wanted the navigation to reflect the reality of what people are coming to the site for. I decided to make the link to the tunes section more prominent by bumping up the font size a bit.

I was worried about how weird this might look; we’re so used to seeing all navigation items presented equally. But I think it worked out okay (though it might take a bit of getting used to if you’re accustomed to the previous styling). It helps that “tunes” is a nice short word, so bumping up the font size on that word doesn’t jostle everything else around.

I think this adjustment is working well for this situation where there’s one very clear tippy-top task. I wouldn’t want to apply it across the board, making every item in the navigation proportionally bigger or smaller depending on how often it’s used. That would end up looking like a ransom note.

But giving one single item prominence like this tweaks the visual hierarchy just enough to favour the option that’s most likely to be what a visitor wants.

That last bit is crucial. The visual adjustment reflects what visitors want, not what I want. You could adjust the size of a navigation option that you want to drive traffic to, but in the long run, all you’re going to do is train people to trust your design less.

You don’t get to decide what your top task is. The visitors to your website do. Trying to foist an arbitrary option on them would be the tail wagging the dog.

Anway, I’m feeling a lot better about the site-wide navigation on The Session now that it reflects reality a little bit more. Heck, I may even bump that font size up a little more.

Thursday, November 24th, 2022

Checked in at Tigh Cóilí. Mary Shannon on banjo! 🎻🪕🎻 — with Jessica map

Checked in at Tigh Cóilí. Mary Shannon on banjo! 🎻🪕🎻 — with Jessica

A full pint of Guinness looks in the foreground of a table with a platter of oysters.

Oysters and Guinness in Tigh Neachtain.

Checked in at Tigh Neachtain. Sitting in a snug — with Jessica map

Checked in at Tigh Neachtain. Sitting in a snug — with Jessica

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2022

Checked in at Tigh Cóilí. Listening to my favourite mandolin player ever—Declan Corey—playing in a cracking session! 🎶 — with Jessica map

Checked in at Tigh Cóilí. Listening to my favourite mandolin player ever—Declan Corey—playing in a cracking session! 🎶 — with Jessica

Checked in at The Crane Bar. Post-dinner session 🎶 — with Jessica map

Checked in at The Crane Bar. Post-dinner session 🎶 — with Jessica

Checked in at Taaffes. A pint and some tunes 🎶 — with Jessica map

Checked in at Taaffes. A pint and some tunes 🎶 — with Jessica

Jessica sitting in a window seat. Outside is green countryside under a darkening sky.

Heading into the west, taking the train from Dublin to Galway.

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2022

Monday, November 21st, 2022

Checked in at Dover Castle. Monday night session 🎶🎻 — with Jessica map

Checked in at Dover Castle. Monday night session 🎶🎻 — with Jessica