Designing Web Navigation Book Review

The navigation design for a website is a big deal. I surf the Internet, and it seems to me that everyone would be quite a bit better off had more Web designers taken the time to read a book like this. Site navigation is the primary way readers are able to interact with information presented in a website. Therefore, a site navigation deserves to have some serious thought behind it. Designing Web Navigation by James Kalbach is an extensive resource on this very subject.

The entire publication is completely dedicated to all things navigation. Finding a book focusing only on this subject isn’t very common, so I was looking forward to seeing what Designing Web Navigation had to offer. The book is outlined as follows:

Designing Web Navigation Book Cover
Designing Web Navigation

  1. Foundations of Web Navigation
    1. Introducing Web Navigation
    2. Understanding Navigation
    3. Mechanisms of Navigation
    4. Types of Navigation
    5. Labeling Navigation
  2. A Framework for Navigation Design
    1. Evaluation
    2. Analysis
    3. Architecture
    4. Layout
    5. Presentation
  3. Navigation in Special Contexts
    1. Navigation and Search
    2. Navigation and Social Tagging Systems
    3. Navigation and Rich Web Applications

From the chapter outline alone, it was apparent that this text could be a significant resource.

Overall impressions of the book

The book is published by O’Reilly, so there’s a certain expectation of quality from the start. That expectation is met through extensive visual reference throughout the full color volume. Styles used in the book are consistent throughout, and you’re able to pick up patterns in the text as you read along.

The author takes into account many of the websites you’re probably using already, pointing out both faults as well as bits of genius. The overall layout of the book makes it a relaxing read as well. By far, my favorite aspect of this publication was seeing consistently placed sidebar-esque paragraphs titled ‘Accessibility’ which outlined key accessibility concerns tied in with the topic of conversation. There were a number of accessibility concerns discussed in these areas causing me to sit back for a moment to think about how great it was that the author took the time to spotlight this important information.


Absolutely. This is a really great book on a topic which isn’t a primary focus very often. If you work on the Web (especially if you’re a designer) I would recommend you give this book a quick read over a weekend or two. There is some really great information provided which will definitely help you design better navigation systems for your websites.