Here’s an update to our thoughts on the main navigation for our new, simpler DAM UI:
The filter column on the left has been removed in favor of Google-style dropdown lists between search box and results. This saves space, and I hope will encourage filter usage because they now appear where the user is actually looking.
The search section indicator (“Bilder” in the screenshot) to the left of the search box has a brighter background; in the old draft you couldn’t really see that it belonged to the search input field.
A nice detail is that the search box now expands once focused. To make space for the larger input field, the links to the right of it switch from icon + text to icon-only while the search box is expanded.
(Please excuse the German screenshot. I took it a few days ago and cannot produce an English one because my development environment is messed up and ugly right now – we’ve switched from frontend to backend experiments for a while.)
If you’re interested in this stuff, you should read the brand new FogBugz Visits the Head(er) Shrinker post by Adam Wishneusky. Looks a bit similar, and also has a search box that grows when you type in it!
Update: The Nielsen Norman Group says we shouldn’t hide the available search sections in a mega dropdown… Jennifer Cardello and Kathryn Whitenton – Killing Off the Global Navigation: One Trend to Avoid: “Even if the global navigation is difficult to design and hard to maintain, most sites will still be better off showing top-level categories to users right away. It's simply one of the most effective ways of helping users quickly understand what the site is about.”