One of our colleagues, Wendy Neal has created some wonderful articles on best practices and web site usability.
From her posts, we know that one of the biggest impacts of a site’s usability is your choice of a navigation model. Adding words into your navigation is powerful. Use nouns in the top horizontal navigation to direct users to places like “finance” or “videos.” Then in the left hand navigation area, use verbs, like “fill out a travel request” or “add a document.” In fact, deciding this critical component of your site will have an enormous impact on your users on the very first visit to your site. In SharePoint, there are different methods to handle changes to navigation. This article hopefully will lend some insight into the most common approaches for top level horizontal navigation.
In SharePoint’s site settings, the links you see under, “Look and Feel,” depends on the type of site you have. Normally, top level team sites or top level publishing sites.
A ‘publishing’ site is your SharePoint site with the ‘publishing infrastructure’ feature activated at the site collection level and the site level. One major benefit of activating the publishing feature is that it gives you better navigation control, especially for the global navigation bar, which is the top horizontal navigation.
These links are available in the Look and Feel section in your site settings page on a team site without publishing.
This is the type of flat navigation you can have. You can edit links directly inline but only if your account has full control permissions.
With the publishing feature, these links also become accessible in your site settings.
With the publishing feature turned on your site navigation can be dynamic with sites automatically added to navigation when they are created. You also have two or three levels of fly out navigation to support easily finding new sites and sub-sites.
We hope this helps your site’s ease of use, and remember to use nouns at the top and verbs on the left!