Ever been to that website that is visually just stunning? I mean, it just looks so cool. And then you try to use it to get some information, only to find out you have no idea what to click on and, when you do find something, have no idea where it’s going to take you.
There’s a term for it in web design: Mystery Meat Navigation. Much like the mystery meat in the school cafeteria of your childhood, it looks good enough, but it’s difficult to digest and there’s no telling just where you’ll end up afterward. As a side note, that’s exactly why it’s called mystery meat navigation.
These websites usually hit a home run in the first few seconds of interaction. After all, they really do look awesome. The problem with mystery meat is that visitor satisfaction quickly goes into the garbage.
Don’t ever, ever, ever sacrifice an effective user interface for stunning design. (Like, ever.) Your website provides its visitors with information. It might go without saying, but if your visitors can’t figure out how to use your website, they can’t use your website. Hundreds of thousands of websites use navigation bars to allow their visitors to easily find what they are looking for. They do it because it works, and if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. As soon as it stops being useful to your visitors, it stops being useful.