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Why Navigation Matters

The transformation over the last two decades in the navigation space has been remarkable. Gone are the days of physical maps that you could never fold quite right; gone are the Mapquest directions that you had to print off before you left the house. Our phones have become a modern-day guide for getting from point A to point B, a digital compass.

Whether on a SharePoint-based intranet or a public-facing website, user behavior remains consistent. Users don’t want to blindly feel around in the dark for their content, they want to be guided to it. Therefore, despite Microsoft’s best efforts to push end users toward search as the chief method of findability, the first section of your page that users look at is the navigation. Research tells us that users start their experience on a page by navigating 70% of the time while only 30% use search. So ensuring that users are able to comprehend a site’s navigation and find an easy and consistent experience is of vital importance.

Limitations of SharePoint Out-of-the-Box Navigation

In the web development industry, there are numerous solutions that can address navigation to ensure that a website’s navigation is natural, uniform, and usable. However, implementation is not easy in a SharePoint environment where the code required to make a navigation eye-catching breaks with each platform update. SharePoint users face a choice: use SharePoint’s inherent navigation or find a custom solution that doesn’t involve traditional SharePoint coding methods.

SharePoint’s out-of-the-box navigation lacks both function and form. There is one font available, one size text, and one color. Until recently, there was only one format that was available, a hover-over drop-down list. Worst of all, each site collection must be updated manually. If following the Microsoft best practices for the use of site collections, this can mean that updating navigation could be a days-long endeavor. Even Microsoft’s own navigation experts acknowledge that if you want to implement global navigation (a one-stop editor for an entire environment’s consistent navigation) you have to build a custom solution or wait until global navigation is made available natively in the product. As of when this blog was written, Microsoft has not provided any timeline as to when that will be. For alternatives to the current navigation styling, Microsoft has been teasing a new mega-menu functionality in the roadmap for months. This functionality, available to early adopters at the time of writing this post, is only possible on Hub sites and still only allows for one font, one text size, one color, and no additional customizations.

Microsoft’s OOTB Megamenu

Presuming that a black, 10 point, inconsistent, hub-site only, navigation isn’t the ideal solution, the only alternative is a custom solution. 

Limited Configurability – No Customization

To build such a bespoke solution that is future-proofed against Microsoft’s updates would cost thousands in development time if done right. How, then, to get a custom navigation solution without paying through the nose?

Navigation made easy with SharePoint Compass

There are only a couple of off-the-shelf navigation solutions available for custom SharePoint global navigation, and SharePoint Compass is the most user-friendly, comprehensive, and cost effective. 

SharePoint Compass Megamenu Navigation

This tool offers the ability to customize the look-and-feel through a simple WYSIWYG editor, allows a one-stop navigation editing space where changes are disseminated throughout the SharePoint environment, and is fully customizable using CSS.

SharePoint Compass WYSIWYG Editor

SharePoint Compass Sample Configuration Page

Get SharePoint Compass

You can try out the free version which allows you to build a single menu on a single site collection by downloading the software here. The Basic version boasts a low per-year license cost ensures we can continually update the tool and provide immediate ROI with small up-front cost. A single menu can be added to as many site collections as you like and can be customized. The Premium version allows for you to create and place many different menus on the site collections that suit you.

SharePoint’s navigation has long been a frustration of both IT departments and end-users, but it need not be anymore.  Good navigation will inspire your users to find content quickly and enjoy their experience on your site. If you’re ready to bring your SharePoint Navigation into the 21st century, download your free trial of SharePoint Compass here today.