IWNC : Breaking new ground
An approach to main navigation that breaks successfully with established convention.
IWNC, a ‘people development’ consultancy based in Asia, has an approach to the main navigation on its website that breaks successfully with established convention.
All the primary and secondary navigation menus on the site are contained in a unique graphical presentation at the top of pages (except on the home page, where only the primary menu is presented). This uses a ‘molecular’ system of coloured dots and lines in which the current main section (for example, About IWNC) is isolated and highlighted in the middle. Radiating out to its left are the other main sections; to the right, and highlighted in matching colour, are the current area’s sub-sections. At lower levels of content the site uses a mix of in-text links and right-hand panels to change the display within the screen below the main navigation, relying for orientation on page headings that repeat the sub-section title.
Playing fast and loose with the basic conventions of site navigation is not normally to be recommended or successful as it tends to disorientate users or gets in the way of them reaching your content. But occasionally someone such as IWNC comes along to show that deviating from the norm can be appropriate and, more importantly, be made to work.
IWNC’s logo incorporates the slogan ‘Inspiring Breakthrough Results’, so it’s easy to see why it would look to pull off something eye-catching and innovative on its website. The gamble is getting it to work – anything that turned out to be clumsy or unusable would put an unwelcome spin on the slogan. The home page successfully introduces the molecular concept, partly because users will expect and allow a little more licence there than deeper in the sight, partly because it features only the primary section headings and sets up no conflicting content ‘teasers’ or links (a risky trade-off in itself). Once in the site, the presentation and simplicity make the system quickly easy to follow.http://www.iwnc.com
First published on 06 September, 2007