Navigation can be a very hard thing to get right when designing a website. I spent this entire morning looking at websites and saw a lot of this thing called icon navigation, that’s sometimes really bad, and when it’s really bad is called “Mystery Meat Navigation”, a term coined by Vincent Flanders, who owns and runs this site.
On occasion it gets done pretty decently, seen in these screenshots of the Evernote navigation (image sourced here).
Which is pretty straightforward. Each icon clearly represents it’s function. But then you get something like this;
That’s just confusing. Unless each numbered link leads to page containing a picture of the same number on a much larger scale, this system is pretty much useless. (here’s the link that used to take you to the real deal page, but it seems they’ve since taken it down and just left someone’s contact. More appropriately, here’s the blog post I took this image from).
The problem here is designers taking looks over basic functionality. Yes, it looks very arty and edgy and it’s certainly attention-grabbing, but that’s for the wrong reasons. The main point I’ve taken away from this is that, if you MUST use icon nav, use recognisable shapes, or you’re just going to annoy a whole bunch of people.