Epitiro : Testing patience
A mish-mash of navigation conventions subverts usability.
Epitiro, a UK-based supplier of broadband delivery measurement services, has different secondary navigation for different parts of its website.
Epitiro’s primary navigation bar has seven sections and runs across the main content area of pages, abutting a featured links column on the right. On selection, two of the sections (Services and Company) open with a tabbed secondary navigation bar showing the respective sub-sections while the section name is highlighted in the main bar. This highlighting disappears when you click through to a sub-section.
Four sections (Markets, Customers, Press Releases and Contact Us) have no secondary bar, instead showing a breadcrumb trail which is added to if links in an in-text index are followed to deeper content. The Solutions section has no initial secondary navigation, but clicking on any of the ‘Learn More…’ links in the overview opens a page with tabbed secondary navigation particular to that option (for example, Solutions for Broadband Providers); the main section name in the primary bar is not, however, highlighted.
Epitiro’s mish-mash of navigation conventions is sure to keep visitors on their toes as they regularly have to stop to check their bearings and review how to proceed around the site. But if there is a reason for testing the patience of the people it presumably wants to do business with, it is not immediately obvious.
Like a good referee, the better the navigation the less users should be conscious of it. One of the keys to this is consistency across the site, something Epitiro signally fails to achieve. Perversely, the failure seems to be deliberate – it would be much easier to design a universal template than the mix-and-match on display here. But any benefits the company may perceive in customising the presentation of different content are surely more than wiped out by the reduced usability that ensues. The highlighting inconsistencies in sections where secondary navigation is offered suggest Epitiro is as disoriented by the experience as its visitors assuredly will be.http://www.epitiro.com/
First published on 25 September, 2008