Vol. 07: Navigation and Page Layout

3rd Edition

Report PDF cover image

Part of the Intranet Usability Guidelines Series

Navigational elements are crucial building blocks in intranet design because navigation and page layout make people aware that information exists, and helps them to find what they need. Menu design significantly impacts employee performance and success on intranets. The content must be organized such that the categories, hierarchy, and terms make sense to people.

Once users find the page they need, they don’t want to spend time wading through pages of text, especially if they’re not sure their efforts will produce the answers they need. Poorly organized pages can make it impossible for users to find what they’re looking for.

This 220-page report contains 100 design recommendations based on our usability research. Discussions and 174 screenshot illustrations supplement the findings.


  • Intranet navigation overview
    • Behaviors that indicate that the intranet's navigation needs work
    • Internal users are not intranet experts
    • Understanding how users explore and use the intranet
    • Implementing an IA and use terminology that works best for employees
  • Intranet navigation and layout
    • Designing simple intranet navigation
    • Motivating employees with easy navigation
    • Designing simple intranet navigation
    • Indicators of a poor navigation scheme
  • Intranet strategies
    • Organization-related issues
    • Design-related issues
  • Information architecture (IA)
    • IA based on department, topic, tasks, and needs
    • Starting point for task-based primary navigation
    • IA based on alphabetic list
    • Evaluation framework for your IA
  • Navigation elements
    • Terminology for menus and links
    • Consistency and persistence
    • Opening new browser windows
  • Intranet content
    • Writing for the web
    • Text and page layout
    • Tone and style
    • Acronyms and initials
    • Images
    • Help and tips

Research Method

The information in these reports is based on three separate rounds of user research with company employees as participants. We used two different research methods:

  • One-on-one usability testing
  • Field studies, during which we observed employees as they went about their normal work

Hundreds of people tested 42 intranets. The studies took place in the United States, the United Kingdom, Finland, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Canada, United Arab Emirates, and China (Hong Kong).


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Customers who choose a group license are authorized to post the report or video on internal file servers or intranets and make it available to others within the organization. The group license does not grant permission to make the report/video available to people not employed by your organization, the general public, or to post it to a publicly accessible website or file server. Group License Terms


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