With the launch of SharePoint 2010, I thought it might be fitting to start focusing on the design and branding element of SharePoint and show the world what can be done when you are thinking of being creating with the product.
Leading on from that I am doing to launch a series of Top 20′s ranging from search box examples , navigation examples and my favourite sites all based on the platform of SharePoint.
So to start the series off I am going to start with my Top 20 Examples of Creative Navigation, with a brief summary of why I like it. They are in no particular order and are the opinion of myself. Enjoy.
So then, let the showcase commence…
1. Carbon Trust
I really like the font they have used for starters and I think the hover state with the reverse colour is effective combined with the immediate show of the sub navigation, which has a subtle fade for the potential white-on-white scenario.
2. BSG Blog
I love this Silverlight navigation, orbiting around home/earth button is really cool. I always love the little touches of the shooting star, UFO that flies across and the twinkle of stars that happens every now and again. All in all and unique and very creative navigation that can be achieved with the combination of SharePoint and Silverlight.
I really like big and bold navigation as it is one of most important elements of any website – clear navigation. Looking at it now as a little picture your eyes are drawn to the logo and navigation instantly. This navigation uses drop down menu functionality with combined with the purple arrow and purple text in hover state just polishes is clean and simple example.
4. Central Ohio Technical College
One good way to gain your users attention is the use of animation. Too much can be overpowering and annoying but used subtly it can be a great way to get them clicking. This navigation I like because I did just that, I was hovering over all the menu options over and over, the animation is smooth and colourful.
5. Hyder Consulting
Something a bit different in terms of layout, on top of a large photo, which sometimes can make navigations lost within the background. One way to counter this is using a large navigation which I this site does well, combined with white text in hover state in the line of sight with the logo and search area, this site navigation works.
The use of the burgundy background with the white navigation as well as the capitalisation of lettering works really effectively and even more so when reversed on the hover state. Leading on from this, the sub menu and the active menu state still using the reverse color of white background and burgundy hover state on the submenu polishes off this example perfectly.
7. Arts & Auto
I really like colour-categorised navigation, it is a simple way to break up and easily identify content within sections on your website. Not only have they done this and have incorporated a dropdown / sub menu with some navigation, in which when cooked together they’ve baked a nice piece of animation with a nice design.
Sometimes when you have a clean site you don’t need to use a graphically heavy navigation. Also using a clean and crisp navigation can really complement a design, which this site does and does well. Not over the top, no animation just simple text with a simple hover state that of an underline. Simples
9. Sdu Uitgever
Not my favourite of navigation examples but I think it is important to demonstrate something different and with that I respect. One thing all creative designers should be looking to do is think outside of the box and this navigation does.
10. SharePoint HQ
What I particularly like about this is the combination of colour palette (I love those blues), the animation and the bottom-right gradient they have used. Also what I think is good to recognise is the contrast of the menu with the background it sits on, creating enough contrast to make the user experience seamless without looking out of place.
Having a site with a large navigation structure can be tricky to present in a clean and clear way, which isn’t busy and cluttered. This site does this perfectly! It is well presented and even incorporates a little bit of content in the sub menu pane. The only thing I think ruins, what could be a lovely example, is the animation for the sub menu pane, I think it very ‘choppy’ and quite violent on the eyes going from a brown palette in their photography then to be presented with a white background instantly. My opinion is that a nice piece of fade in/out animation would be perfect here.
12. Central Ohio Technical College
Similar to Central Ohio Technical College further up, this is animating up instead of to the right, BUT with a little twist not only does this navigation animated up it also changes the image below based on what you option you have decided to hover over. Although it is flash and I think that it is cheating to use a flash menu on a SharePoint site, I like it and it is my blog so I will include! but this will be the only one I promise! I would like to think that CCB have used flash to tap into a list to power their navigation, if they have then then I suppose that’s a decent compromise.
If there is one colour that goes with a strong and vibrant color like red it is grey and in particular gun metal grey, one of my favourites. What I think makes this navigation really cool is that use of imagery on the drop down boxes to emphasis the area you are in and could head over to, I also like the animation that is used just tops off the whole navigation.
14. Safe Network
First thing I noticed on this navigation was the shadow that is used on the right/bottom of the drop down which really gives the sub menu definition. With a site that used big, bold colours the navigation supports this really well. I also like the way the top header and navigation sit on top of the image slider/view that is used behind the site.
Sometimes you just need to go back to the basics! The brand for this site is clearly black and white, using this they have kept their navigation simple, but with a twist. Using the sub menu they have added the functionality of when you hover over the different options you are presented with a visual representation, in this case a picture of the watch based on the what model you hover on. A perfect example of simplicity works.
One thing I like is trying something different! Clever navigation based on their logo the ‘+’ (plus) sign really works well. Instantly identifiable with the logo you cant help but notice that Goodman use a + as there logo. Going back to the navigation you are clearly presented with 5 options which takes you to various areas. Once in those areas they use a standard navigation you see everywhere, shame really as their initial navigation is cool.
This is a common trend I have seen where people use the navigation to tell people the sections they will be clicking on them and underneath what the section is about. It can be used really effectively sometimes but also can become a very busy as well on the flip side. Just wish they had a mute button for the woman…
Sometimes you didn’t even need to use the conventional horizontal or vertical navigation. This site shows us you can use a search interface to get around your site however I will always put my money on that people prefer the normal way of navigation as that is what people are used to. But I think it is a good example of what can be done especially with the search capabilities within SharePoint.
What I want you to focus on here is the use of the ‘house’ icon for the home button. First time I have seen this on a SharePoint site and it is a really good way to free up a bit of space if needed and is instantly recognisable as the button to click to go ‘home’.
20. 1 By Youth
Another example of pushing the boundaries of navigation with SharePoint is using the overwhelming power of CSS. Using the hover state and mixed with an image for the background you can instantly create a unique hover experience for your navigation as demonstrated here.
Well there you have it! Some great examples of all the different possibilities of what can be achieved with SharePoint. I would be really keen to see what other sites out there with cool and quirky navigations, so feel free to share!