EDF : Upgrading to standard

A navigation ‘upgrade’ is part of an attempt to revive customisable browsing.

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The Site

EDF, a France-based energy group, mismanages an attempt to revive customisable navigation features. EDF’s primary navigation bar includes a ‘+’ icon at the extreme right. It is in a darker tone of the bar’s colour (orange) rather than, as are the other elements, black type. Hovering over the icon reveals a small dropdown panel containing two checkboxes – ‘Advanced navigation’ and ‘My EDF applications from the home page’ – and a Confirm button. There is no explanation of the tool either here or on the universal Help page. Checking ‘Advanced navigation’ results in a change to the primary navigation bar’s behaviour: dropdown menus appear when mousing over primary section headings, where on the ‘basic’ version they take users to the section on click and offer no preview dropdown. ‘My EDF applications from the home page’ allows customisation of the full-width My EDF applications panel that sits above the rich footer on all pages. Users can choose its four default ‘applications’ (actually just topic-specific quick-links, such as Press releases) from a set of eight.

The Takeaway

Allowing users a degree of customised navigation was a popular notion a decade ago, usually involving featured content panels on the main or section home pages. Mostly, it proved a short-lived fad and EDF’s development of the idea does not make a persuasive case for a revival. Any chance it has of catching on, even with EDF’s own site users, is greatly reduced by the lack of clarity with which it is implemented. First, not only is the marking of the’+’ icon overly discreet but what it signifies is unclear because of other associations with it – does it expand the navigation bar or have a social media function, for example? Second, for anyone who does investigate there is a lack of explanation about what it enables and the benefits of it. Assuming their curiosity continues to get the better of the reason they came to the site in the first place, those opting for Advanced navigation must thus start using the site to gauge the extra functionality provided – which may not immediately be apparent since mouseover menus come as standard on many sites. Perhaps EDF considers this an upgrade to which its ‘standard class’ visitors are not yet entitled. But if, for whatever not-obvious reason, it is going to persist with offering a choice between basic and advanced levels of provision, it should at least structure the tool so the choice can be an informed one.

First published 19 April, 2012
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