Misleading Site Navigation and the Missing Swan

Keith Peters, a pillar of the Flash/Actionscript community, posted an interesting little video of a game in which players ‘paintball’ to discover the environment they’re in. For some reason, it made me thirsty. But, I digress.

I watched this whilst planning for a site re-architecting, where the direction provided was to be a bit outside of the box. Now, I’m a flash developer at heart. First thing I’m thinking is a website where you navigate with your eyeballs only. And maybe the Z key. But only after you’ve gotten your avatar through the first ten stages of digital stratospheres.

Then I hit this video, and me thinks, “This is a great analogue to the oft found, poorly planned navigation we so often encounter as visitors to the online marketing realms.” And yes, thats how my brain actually converses with itself.

Charged with creating an experiential, er, deep-dive into a brand, we often release a product which gives the impression that the marketer just as soon would send you floating on an iceberg around greenland as have you learn about their product. Note: I am a reader but not the most open-armed fan of guys like Jacob Nielsen.

So, where did the re-architecting end up? Well, in a good place. No, no Z keys. In fact, the navigation (graphical features on the page with accurate text description, of the kind one clicks) of the existing site does just fine. I didn’t recommend we ‘improve’ it, though they could look a bit more appealing.

The outside of the box came through providing a tangible and easy to use set of tools encouraging dialogue and interaction. Isn’t that what the internet is for? Ka Wai commented that being ‘outside of the box’ these days is, perhaps, staying right there inside of the box where you know everybody.