For the new Mail & Guardian Online that we are launching later next month we’ve had quite a few discussions and workshops about the navigation. It was a unanimous decision early on that we would opt for a top nav, discarding the left nav we currently have, which we feel is outdated and cluttered. We’ve also consolidated the sections, creating a few “super sections”, as we figure we currently have too many which dilute the offering from a content and advertising perspective.

The navigation meetings we’ve had have been involved… deciding how you structure your content is a decision based on understanding the tradeoffs: how users surf your site, what’s intuitive, what content is core to your business, what content is available to your business, what your general strategic direction is, available space, what’s best practice, which sections follow parent-child relationships and so on. Some decisions are obvious and follow best practice, such as on a news site, the news section is the key and a regional approach is general advised for your subsections.

We also decided early on that we would need to follow a balancing act between innovation, originality, creativity and what we regard as international best practice for website creation in the news genre. For the M&G Online, a big consumer news site, the overall structure, navigation and look & feel has to comply to best practice and be intuitive to a wide audience, but with pockets of innovation here and there. It’s no good creating an extremely innovative site that brings in new navigation and content paradigms that your users may or may not get.

We also have world-class examples to draw from and the sites that have inspired us include the Washingtonpost.com, NYTimes.com, The Guardian Unlimited and www.theage.com.au.

So below is the proposal for the new nav so far… it’s not finalised yet. We still have a few more meetings on it to go. There are three levels of navigation: Top level (eg: news), sub category (eg: national) and third level (eg: courts). The third level isn’t shown below.

PROPOSED NAV BAR FOR M&G ONLINE 2.0

HOME (only on secondary pages)

NEWS
NATIONAL | AFRICA | WORLD | AND IN OTHER NEWS … | ZAPIRO | WEATHER

OPINION
COMMENT & ANALYSIS | COLUMNISTS | LETTERS | BODY LANGUAGE | OBITUARIES | CORRECTIONS

BUSINESS
BUSINESS NEWS | M&G MONEY

SPORT
SPORT NEWS | SOCCER | RUGBY | CRICKET | TENNIS | GOLF | ATHLETICS | MOTOR RACING | OTHER SPORT

LIFESTYLE
ARTS | TRAVEL | MOTORING | TECHNOLOGY

THE GUIDE

SPECIAL REPORTS
….

BLOGS
THOUGHT LEADER | TECH LEADER | SPORTSLEADER | AMAGAMA | AMATOMU

Notes:
– Editorials and Weekly Wrap form part of Comment & Analysis page
– Special Reports can change to feature various reports
– Partner Sites have promos elsewhere (Good News, Teacher, Campus Times)

5 Responses to “Navigation for your site: The case for new M&G Online”
  1. @kilps thanks for comments… yeah we’re dividing news up into regions, places and also people. We also have a third lvel, which includes politics, parliament etc…

  2. […] Matthew Buckland’s post about decisions being made about their redesign of the Mail & Guardian website reminded me how […]

  3. It’s great how open you’re being with the whole process – but out of interest will the ‘National’ section be further divided into categories such as the Provinces, Politics etc. similar to how the BBC does it with their UK section? (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/default.stm)

    Not relevant to your design but now that I think about it a section covering what is going on in Parliament would be pretty cool … I don’t know of anyone else who does that.

  4. @ eve, actually we have now decided to promote “ARTS” to top level, which will mean a book sub cat (second level), whereas in the above structure the item does exist, but at a third level…………….

  5. No ‘Books’ tab ? I guess they fall under Arts, but I would like to see a separate link for ‘Live Shows’ too. Good to be able to get to reviews quickly, and MG is the one place I would trust for rational opinion :-)

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