Home : Lessons : Navigation : Secondary navigation
Location details
Visual location
Primary navigation
Secondary nav.
Focusing on users
Good controls
Case studies
< Previous: Primary navigation

Secondary navigation

As well as primary navigation controls, included on each page, most sites use their home page for navigation (i.e. a list of contents) and there may also be contents pages for sections of the site.

I am referring to these pages as secondary navigation. This navigation is not included on all pages, only a few specific pages. However, it is usually the main focus of the page which contains it, rather than being pushed off into a sidebar.

(Note: I don't mean to imply that "secondary" navigation is less important to users than "primary" navigation. The main distinction is simply that it doesn't occur on all pages of the site.)

Importance of secondary navigation

Secondary navigation is important because, unlike the sidebars, it appears in the main section of the page that users pay most attention to. Since there is more space it can also give detail about the contents of each section or subsection of the site, so that users can make a sensible choice about where to go.

Secondary navigation often also provides fast routes to information. For example, a site might highlight the most recent new content on the front page, so that regular visitors can go directly to it.

Other secondary navigation

Contents pages are the most common form of secondary navigation. Other examples include site maps, indices, and search pages.

(You may not have come across site maps before; a site map is a page that shows the structure of the entire site and allows access to all pages within the site.)

Your own site

Individual exercise

Try to come up with secondary navigation for your site. You can normally list this in a few sentences or bullet points, for example: