So I'm ever conscious of the lingo that people acquire as part of their work. I wrote about learning the lingo back in August.
One very important term (and even more important concept) is what we call "Global Navigation." Is this some kind of GPS? OK, I exaggerate.
I guess the term Navigation is well know by people. The term "Global Navigation" applies to any of the navigation for a site that appears globally on every single page of the site. "Home" is the most common global navigation element. Everyone has one on every page in their site.
What seems to be less known is the absolute rule for global navigation - keep it consistent. It seems that a common mistake for Information Architects is that they take each page in a site and design it as it stands alone. This means that quite commonly the global navigation of the site changes position, contents, look or even all three.
Perhaps this yields very smart looking individual pages. Maybe it allows different sections of their site to have a different look and feel to suit a different marketing segment.
But the bad side to it is that it confuses users. When designing an entire site, there is a very critical item that must be kept in mind. Users won't know exactly where things on your site are. As a matter of fact, they likely won't even know if your site has what they are looking for. Users will look around, try different things to find what they are looking for. Most of the time they won't find it and so they will want to try another option. Imagine what it's like if the options keep moving around the page, or magically appearing and disappearing from page-to-page.
I always think of it like this. Suppose someone came to your house and reorganized everything. It's always great to have a tidy home and you might be thrilled. But when you first go to your dresser to find the right clothes to wear you might not know which drawer to look in. Imagine that you start with the first drawer and open it. You don't find what you are looking for, but you notice that all of the other drawers have suddenly changed their places. You then try to open the second drawer and the first drawer moves somewhere else. How confusing would it be?