29/8/2006 - Navigation overview in Sharepoint
Now the site is created we face a very important issue. Navigation! How do we set up the perfect navigation. Before we'll explore it's important to know what navigation is. According to serveral Wikepedia definititions we can define navigation as follows:
Navigation is about moving toward a final destination or goal. It is a means to an end. It is not an end in itself. When designing web navigation it is important to include answers to these basic questions - Where am I? Where can I go? How will I get there? How can I get back to where I once was?
When setting up the navigation to your new Sharepoint site it's very important to keep this definition in mind because you really don't want bad user experience.
Sharepoint offers standard tools and functionality by default to help you create a proper navigation.
- quick launchbar
- top menubar
- quick search
To understand more of the navigation i will review several scenarios to determine how Sharepoint offers standard navigation. And what is expandabe and changeable according to the navigation.
Let's begin creating a new site called development under the Top Portal Site (http://f1/pages/default.aspx) and review where navigation has been provided, changed or expanded
sites --> create new site
When creating a new site you can fill in different data. (some fields are optional other are mandatory)
- title and description: the name of your site including decription
- web site address: the name in the url (after http://f1/sitedirectory/..)
- permissions: use parentsite permissions or use your own
- navigation inheritance: specify whether you want site new site created in the top menu bar under sites
- site categories: by default Sharepoint offers several categories
- template selection: choose the template for your new site from three categories; collaboration, enterprise or meetings
Now the Development Site has been created.
From the Home Portal Site the navigation is as follows:
As you can see in the left quick launch bar under sites development has been automatically created. Another link has been created on the top menu bar while we have chosen yes under navigation inheritance. It's interesting to see that 2 links on the same page have been created to the same location. This appears to be a little strange while users might get lost here.
Now we move on to our new created Development Site
As you can see is the home link displayed three times. In the breadcrumbtrail you can see where you are located. In the quick launch bar on the left you can create workspaces document libraries etc. by clicking on sites --> create
When clicking on sites in the top menu bar you will create another Top Site. The navigation between the two looks the same but there really is a big difference. I think it's a little confusing but you'll get used to this.
On the development site i created a wiki site doing this:
sites --> create --> wiki
While creating the Wiki Sharepoint asks if you want to display the new wiki site in the quick launch bar. I did, so the Development page navigation looks like this:
While i created a wiki page Sharepoint classifies this as Documents. That means when Sharepoint asks you if you want to display the link in the quick launch bar Sharepoint classifies the location by default. If you would have created a list Sharepoint classifies it under Lists and so on.
Now i'm creating another site and i go for a Records Repository Site.
sites --> create site --> records repository site
Let' take another look at what happens
Now we have created a new Records management site. It shows up on the top menu and on the left under sites. I guess all sites show up the same way.
Let's go 1 level deeper into the structure. I created another site under the development department. I chose to display this site in the top menu bar because i wondered what would happen on our Top Portal Site. Guess what? Nothing happened there. That's good news because like i said the site was created under development. What happened to the development site? Nothing at first sight but when you select view all site content. It's there:
Because we have chosen a team site standard quick launch functionality is displayed. A new website isn't part of that quick launch schedule so it can only be reviewed when you select view all site content. Please notice that while you are on the New Website in de quick launch menu the new website is still shown and it refers to the same page. I don't know why?
All items displayed in the quick launch menu are items from the development site created before. Take a look at the breadcrumbstrail.
B.t.w. a nice feature is that when you check in your document on the left the Version changes.
This short overview tried to display some of the navigation elements Sharepoint uses by default. Some things certainly look strange first but you'll definately get used to that. To determine if standard navigation fits your goals you must always question yourself:
Where are you? Where do you want to go? How did you get there? If these questions can simply be answered you are on the right track. I can conclude Sharepoint provides good navigation tools while some solutions can of course be argued.
So far for now....
An interesting article about navigation can be found here
When default Sharepoint is just not good enough for navigation you have to read this article