Seeking Feedback on a New Approach to NASA.gov Navigation

We’re working on a new approach to our navigation menus and we want to hear what you think of them. The primary goal of the new menu design is to surface popular and hard-to-find contents so they are easier for you to get to.

We’ve been listening to our users through a variety of channels including satisfaction surveys, e-mail and social media to learn what information you’re seeking on NASA.gov. Our new menus highlight this information, making it easier for you to get to, along with the standard sub-categories and links to featured and most popular content.

The new menus can be found below. We really want to perfect these before launching them on our site so take a look at them and let us know what you think. And if you know of other Web sites that do navigation even better feel free to share them with us. Thanks in advance for your valuable input!

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News Menu

Missions Menu

Multimedia Menu

Connect Menu

About NASA Menu

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84 thoughts on “Seeking Feedback on a New Approach to NASA.gov Navigation”

  1. I like them, though a bit more variation in color (or small icons) would be nice. It’s hard to know where to look when everything under a menu looks exactly the same. Otherwise, they look good!

    Another nit, I can’t actually get to nasa.gov, I have to prefix it with www. That’s kind of an old way of doing things…

  2. I like them. Very slick, I like the horizontal format too. They are much more informative than your current menus!

  3. It looks like as if the navigation options are intuitively organized; I find what I’m looking for where You’ve located it.

    Sincerely yours, Fredrik Rothstein.

  4. Looks good so far. Background colours (or shades of grey) or coloured borders might helpful to differ between respectively emphasize the columns and the content in the columns.

    Will there be more content in the submenus or are these examples close to the live status?

  5. Wow, the horizontal format is very clear. It’s also great to share content with social network with a single button. Congratulations, good job!

  6. I am a frequent visitor to NASA.gov. I always enjoy the news items and articles about launches, science, etc. Although I never had any problems nagivating through the old format, I love the new one!! Thanks NASA

  7. These look pretty good, and I think will improve navigation. This site is a portal and the information behind the home page is immense. The far left column of the dropdowns is a very good step being a broad view. Still, should “NASA History” be in “News” or “About NASA”?

    I would suggest adding a tab called something like “latest”. My guess is many people visit the site when the hear something in the news. A “Latest” tab would be the one stop location for all things relevant in the past 7 days or so. A navigational “this week @ NASA”. Would this be a workflow (staffing) issue to institute?

    For me, I end up going to the search function. I know what I want and I’d rather not navigate around looking for it. The search function on the site could benefit with some upgrades as part of this overall upgrade.

    The NASA site is full of rich information and media. And unfortunately, the NASA site is full of rich information and media! Oh what success had brought you. I applaud what has been done to this site in the past few years and how it has grown. Nice job by all.

  8. I don’t see the link to live streaming from the ISS under multimedia? Is there another place to go to link there. I usually like watching the sites as the astronauts may be viewing them. Thanks Barbara Sturgeon

  9. A couple of comments –
    1) Are you still using Flash to drive the menus?
    2) Visiting the site with a blackberry or other mobile browser causes me much pain, though I can usually work my way through it.

    It’s pretty tricky to find what you’re looking for in the multimedia area of the current site, especially if it’s not something that happened in the past few days. The new menus look like they’ll help some, but the underlying interface needs to be tweaked as well.

  10. I like mega menus…. and agree that they are the next wave in usable navigation. We’ll be using them on the Virginia Tech website as we approach a redesign of the homepage and interior CMS pages.

    Having a fixed height where your pimary nav column breaks to a second column seems a bit awkward when there are just one or two orphaned items in the second column. And those groupings might need some sort of visual clue that they are separate from the other mega menu content items. Drop shadow, thicker lines? Container? But that’s all I really see that might create some confusion.

    Looks great! Good luck and post a follow-up on how the input turns out.

  11. The new menus look great! Is any work being done to get a Mac-compatible player for NASA TV?

  12. Looks like this is going to be a great improvement. What are the plans for the “images” section? That could be a whole subhead section on its own, no? I’d love to see a better way to navigate through images.

    Thanks
    -Mike Stillwell

  13. I have mixed feelings about this approach. I think the mega-dropdown style you’re considering here is a good solution to the fundamental problem of the NASA site – lots of content to navigate to. But the question of megadropdowns always becomes – what to put in them, and I’m not sure you’ve solved that problem very well.

    There doesn’t seem to be a consistent rule about what should appear in the “content” portion of the dropdown. Like in one, you’ve got links from the section, another you’ve got a photo with a link. Seems like a miss not to have a thumbnail for at least one of the “Latest Videos”. I think you should work hard to establish some consistent guidelines for the overall formatting of the dropdowns.

    The social media icons don’t need their labels next to them. Users of the sm platforms will know what they are. You could offer the label on a tool tip.

    In terms of the interaction….

    I am assuming that these will operate in the same way that they do today – on hover of your mouse. If that is so, then they will be not very ipad and touch device friendly. Given that we will be seeing an upsurge in the number of gesture-based devices in the next five years – i would advise that you consider a nav schema with these devices in mind. You can still go with a mega-dropdown style but one that expands on click instead of hover.

    To take it one step further – instead of trying to think of different kinds of content to stuff into the empty space of the dropdown (as you’ve done here), you could fill that space with a more detailed description of the left side navigation. E.g.If a user were to click on NASA TV on the left, the right side of the dropdown could display a description of what NASA TV is. This could include an image and short description along with a call to action to bring the user to the NASA TV page.

    Styling – I’m not loving the styling, and the light background for the navigation breaks with the consistency of the current site. I think they would fit in much better with the current site if they kept the same dark background of the current site. I think you should do a little subtle polishing work would go a long way to making them appear better. Some visual differentiation between the categories and the content would also help with information scent. The lines between items aren’t doing it for me.

  14. I’m not a great fan of these mega-type drop-down menus. Not only are they ungainly but they also have a tendency to grow and become more confusing for the user. Menus should be logical, when I have designed menus for corporations, I generally create links that follow the corporation structure. After all, a user looking for the HR department doesn’t want to trawl through dozens of links simply to find a specific unit. He/She will roughly know what they are looking for, they also tend to want the information within two or at most three clicks. I think the old adage ‘KISS’ (Keep It Simple Stupid) should be remembered when creating the menu structure.

  15. It’s really been an wonderful website not only for me but for all the students over the world..Thanks NASA.

  16. I like the new menus much better than the old ones. It may be a little cluttered from a design standpoint, but it looks much more useful from an information-gathering perspective.

  17. As an IT systems PM and GUI fanatic, I think what you have is fine if you want to maintain readership, but if you want to drive traffic to the site I would create a section of immediate interest. For example, from twitter I know that you are giving away those heat tiles from space shuttles to teachers, but teachers can RARELY go on twitter during the day. So where can a teacher go on this site to find that? What if I’m a teacher, and I LOVE this heat tile give-away, and I want to stay posted on education-specific events, or receive pushes to my email that are related to my interests?

    Not saying what’s here isn’t good; I really like it. I just think there’s more that y’all can do that are only a mild stretch of your existing technology.

  18. Find a mission needs the missions listed in the pulldown (may want to limit this to current active missions or a subset of the 10 most relevant). A very brief description might also be helpful in that I’m not always up on every mission and may not even be sure what mission I’m trying to find out more about.

    On an unrelated note, I find it very frustrating (as a Mac user) that the streaming version of the various NASA TV channels do not support more modern codecs. I had to download something called Flip for Mac, just so I could watch some of the streams. I mean Real and WMP?!! Get
    with the times and use MP4 (which looks better anyway).

  19. In general: I like it. Definitely prefer light background, dark text, for easy reading. (Light text on dark is often prettier, and suggests outer space, but light on dark is easier for most people to read.) Esp. where space is at a premium, and font sizes remain small, dark text on white or pale color wins points.

    Suggestion:

    Under Connect: Twitter.

    Would like an easy way to find a list of all the Twitter feeds, with a brief description where it’s not obvious, so that I could find one of immediate interest. Right now I’m depending on Twitter’s own “Follow this” suggestion (how I found the ones I’ve subscribed to.) Could be divvied up into “people” “missions” “current news” etc. with list under each. But something. I have no idea how many Twitter feeds there are, or how to find them.

    You may already have done this, of course.

  20. It would be great if your “image galleries” area actually consolidated links to all the NASA image galleries (e.g., nasaimages.org, grin.hq.nasa.gov, and the center libraries–Marshall, Kennedy, and Dryden especially). Finding relevant images across such scattered domains is frustrating. Including a link in the subnav to a page that consolidates them would be so wonderfully useful.

  21. Fat drop down menus are ok if they are designed very carefully and don’t come across clunky. The additional links in the screenshots above appear to make sense. But, please polish the UI design. Good example for fat drop down menus is cisco dot com. I <3 NASA

  22. Yes! Its badly needed, Nasa Lovers want to know What NASA is Doing And where, for that a Perfect navigation menu is a Must. The menus displayed above look perfect And cover All the areas I suppose I which NASA is involved. To be more user friendly you Should as for Interests of user , What exactly They want to know.
    Thanks very much for asking feedback.

  23. What a great project to get your community involved!

    As an interaction design professional, I think your approach is contemporary, well organized, and adheres to many best practices. May I offer a few suggestions:

    – Remove “Home” from the global navigation menu. The common best practice is to link to home from your logo at left. This opens up valuable space for an additional item in the navigation.

    – Remove your double navigation. The “For Public / For Educators…” navigation is brilliant and filled with incredible content, but stacking it as a secondary navigation below your primary menu is visually noisy and difficult to find and comprehend. Instead, add it to the global menu: “Resources,” and nesting “For Public,” “For Educators” within that menu.

    – Expand the height of the dropdown menu to eliminate the double column of links that occur in “Multimedia” and “About NASA.” In each instance, the second column contains only 2 links. There’s no danger in making a taller menu to include all these links in one column and creating more space for additional content.

    – The additional content in each menu is a wonderful feature, encouraging readers to delve deeper into content. One site that does this remarkably well is ESPN: http://espn.go.com/

    I love your Twitter feed, keep up the good work!

  24. This will be much easier to navigate! Now, one can easily, and quickly, see all that the website has to offer with the great organized overview that the tabs provide. Great Job!

  25. Looks brilliant… Menus inside menus is a great idea. So we dont have to click a menu and go to a page and again click a menu to get the final page. From this, we can go directly to the inner page from the homepage itself. So its a great idea. Sometimes I also got problems in getting to the Shuttle mission schedules. This renovation will very much solve the problems like that.
    Looking forward to browse in the new site.

  26. Visually it looks good. I’d be careful about how much blankspace is left in the menus though. Perhaps the social network icons could use a little TLC too. I’d agree with comment #33 below about the home button. Also on the point of being able to easily delve deeper in to NASA.gov content; I’ve always felt there could be an improvement made upon that and I certainly think this new navigational menu scheme can help. I appreciate that it isn’t easy to organize this level and amount of content in a consistent and “easy” manner, especially with so many program offices, projects, subdomains, and the like. I think otherwise you’re GO from the data on my console. I can’t wait to see it live!

    Clear skies, NASA! ๐Ÿ™‚

  27. I would advise to have each link a new page:ex. clicking connect would display page on connect. The main tabs will still be above but each tab will show its own page. This would allow for more space to display many pictures(we like pictures{especially gif files}, videos, updates, and pending information).

  28. I would like to see a NASA TV twitter channel that tweets the upcoming shows and to keep one abreast of the dynamic changes that can happen when news conferences are delayed or rescheduled,which in turn can change the alternate programming used to fill in to the top of the hour.

  29. I would like to see a NASA TV twitter channel that tweets the upcoming shows and to keep one abreast of the dynamic changes that can happen when news conferences are delayed or rescheduled,which in turn can change the alternate programming used to fill in to the top of the hour.

  30. All the areas in which NASA is involved should be covered in POP up menus, also every thing that is happening, NASA Should ask people about their areas of interests and display info. accordingly As NASA is So vast each person may have their own likes & interests.
    POP ups displayed above almost look perfect.
    Thanks
    ROCK ON!!!! As you Always do.

  31. The new format looks great! But then again, I love NASA so much that you could put it all in a burlap bag…lol!

  32. I came here at your request on twitter (@SiFuPeterson).
    The navigation seems straight forward. It is presented in an
    pleasing manner.
    You might want to provide an educational references link
    to guide some to materials they might want to study for
    pursuing a career in aerospace. Someone must occasionally
    something like; _The_Science_Absolute_of_Space_ by John Boya

  33. I noticed that the only menu on which you have a search option is Missions. What if someone wants to search for a particular news story, a particular video, or a particular person? I think each menu should have an option for searching.

  34. Generally looks good, though some of those menus are huge!

    My random comments:

    * Maybe include options to search by planet and wavelength/spectral region for missions? People often get confused if several sound similar.

    * Make sure that it’s easy to select the options you want from the menus, rather than a tiny cursor movement inadvertently selecting something completely different.

    * I second the call for a page which indexes images from all the sites too, and also for Mac-accessible NASA TV.

    * How accessible is the site without a mouse, or with a screenreader? Are the megamenus going to reduce accessibility?

    * ‘Connect’ isn’t a very intuitive title for the content in that menu. I wouldn’t think of looking there for apps etc. I’m struggling to think of anything better right now though.

    * Can you add ‘Top 5 Most popular links’ somewhere to help people find what’s currently hot, and a ‘Top news’ link in the News section?

    * I agree that ‘Home’ is superfluous – free up the space for something else, and use the logo to return to the homepage.

    * In the ‘Connect’ tab, maybe just have ‘Blogs’ rather than ‘Featured Blogs’ – it wasn’t obvious that there was a link there to other blogs until I looked for the third time.

    That’s all I can think of… overall it looks good ๐Ÿ™‚

  35. Hello, I think the design is great, no problems at all. Although I would love to have an extra menu item, Glossary, a place to easily find the meaning for more difficult expressions and abbreviations and the like. Keep up the good work.

  36. Looks great. One suggestion:Perhaps under “Missions” you should have a category that connects to other space related agencies, both governmental (ESA, JAXA, etc) and commercial (SpaceX, OSC, Scaled Composites, etc.) or at least those commercial organizations that have formal relationships with NASA. In light of yesterday’s Dragon / Falcon launch, it would seem appropriate for NASA to act as the centralized source for information for all things spaceflight.

  37. if you have a ‘share’ function anywhere, i’d suggest you add a button/link from addthis.com to individual stories/articles.

    at this time they have about 316 sites which they can forward to, including blogs, microblogs and social networks.

    it’d be a great way to spread the word around when someone finds something they like.wkbunj

    if not that, mebbe a link to ping.fm. they can forward a link to up for 40-50 places simultaneously, and they’re one of the services available through addthis.com.

    the navigation pix look okay. for myself, i can’t think of a way to improve on them right now.

  38. I like these new menus! One thing that peaks my interest as well is what Jim Wilde suggested with linking to other (non-NASA) missions as well; acting as a central hub of sorts.

  39. I feel it is a better output. how on earth you would bring out anything bad…way to go NASA. I am one of your daily surfer.

  40. There is a redundancy problem. For example, there’s nasa “dot” gov Spirit and Opportunity page, but then there’s also the JPL “dot” nasa “dot” gov which is the “real” MER page. Consider merging the two or eliminating the nasa “dot” gov version.

  41. I like it! Its organized and will make going through the site much more easier(not that it was hard before).

  42. NASA has a huge store of educational materials. I think that Education deserves a major category right at the top.

    Also, not really related but I can never get to nasa.gov – I always have to use http://www.nasa.gov.

  43. From what I can see the new layout is looking more organized and streamline compared to the current layout. It’s a bit more “modern” for the look of a navigation menu.

    One personal desire I would like to see in the future of the NASA website is a change to how your organize your image gallery. I would like to have all images of planetary bodies/celestial events/etc be organized into their own galleries. For example, I wanted to see all images NASA has of Saturn’s moon Titan I would like to be able to go into images, click Titan and see only images of Titan. I’d love to see artist concepts, photographs taken by satellites, etc.

  44. Navigation for a site with a lot of content is always a challenge, and I think this design answers that challenge very well.

    Don’t worry about some redundancy (re: another comment)… Different people will search using different methods, and it’s almost always better to have two links to the same content than to leave half (+/-) your visitors wondering where it is.

  45. Much better! As a reporter I found the old format frustrating, I would like to see news stories with other news related resources associated with them in some way. For example a news story with links to a press kit, photos,videos, and educator resources

  46. Without having read all of the comments, I will say that I agree with adding somewhere “top 5” items–and I think that’s good for accessibility reasons, both technologically and psychologically. People often just want to hit the high points and leave, so give them that opportunity.

    I also wanted to mention that I’m not sure that “NASA in my life” mean. What’s in there? Why should I click on that?

    Maybe a category you can add to “news” might be “space images” or something like that. I know people are always wanting to see new imagery from space and that would make it super easy to find, rather than having to drill down into the nav.

    Since this is just an image I’m not sure how this will behave on a device other than a desktop/laptop. Do you guys have a plan in place for that? Maybe a responsive design would be good for that: http://www.alistapart.com/articles/responsive-web-design/

  47. I was in a meeting this morning where I rediscovered one fundamental parameter in designing anything at all. Keep it simple stupid (KISS). Sometimes too much is stuffed into this new and improved cure all. Just make it useable by everyone as possible.

  48. I like the menes but I would like to suggest that the MISSION drop down follow the same grouping as news topics (i.e., Shuttle, Station, moon & mars, universe, aeronautics) rather than POPULAR, IMAGE & LAUNCH. I think the public may find it easier to look for a mission based on what they know (e.g., Shuttle) rather than a mission (Chandra). Or where the mission is going (e.g. mars, moon, etc.)

    Hope this helps

  49. I agree with the previous comment that Education needs to be more predominate. I work on STEM focused on Educate to Innovate presentation at schools. As I reseached for material (video/pictures/links) and search the gallary for media it was a bit difficult to find media in a focused area (e.g., aeronautics, robotics, NASA careers, science/technology/engineerng/math etc.) Maybe a link to the Education office site(s)?

  50. Looking good to me! Although can’t get some videos feeds sometimes. You guys are impressive group, I come back daily.

  51. They look amazing!
    Caution on one thing that was also referred on previous comments: if the menu appears on mouse hover, this makes it inaccessible for users that might not be using a mouse but tab or keyboard navigation (varying from cell phone users, to people with disabilities or simply someone without a mouse). Try asking the designers to make it “on mouse click” – this way it can be accessed via keyboard at least by tab+enter. ๐Ÿ™‚

  52. Hi Nasa, checking in. Would love to see the beta version before you run for good. Can’t really tell how effective. I had to go over the current site and do a comparison. You need another feedback once you run the new version. So far so good. You are the all time Inspiration past, present &future as such your information MUST require constant catalogue,catagorisation & streamline accordingly; perhaps beginning from the last decade to the last 15years and the rest archived& zipped. May I also suggest you also include JPL,Goddard,Kennedy&others in the main page &link up to their respective website. I guess that’s it. Please don’t forget to upload GMT as you have global audience. Thank you so much! Keep Inspiring! Love &Blessings

  53. This really looks great to me. It’s well organized, polished and oiled. Do it!! It is Very clean and clear menus, very nice. Good work.

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