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Why This is Important
Consistent navigation prevents people from getting lost or confused, especially for screen reader users, screen magnifier users, and people with cognitive disabilities.
In order to be accessible, the navigation should have the same visual styling, wording, and be written in the same order. This way, it's more predictable and makes it easier for people to know where to look when searching for the page they wish to find.
Consistent navigation is especially accessible for screen magnifier users because screen magnifiers significantly enlarge everything and the users move around the interface to find things. Consistency helps them find things more quickly and easily because it’s more predictable.
This references WCAG criterion 3.2.3 Consistent Navigation (Level AA).
How to Implement This
Use Global Navigation
There are a few different types of navigation in UX design (user experience). The global navigation describes the top level of navigation that should appear on all pages. Secondary navigation and even deeper levels nested within the global nav might change depending on where you are in the application.
For example, take this awesome website:
The global navigation should remain the same and appear on all pages. This helps people move from one section of the site to an entirely different section quickly and easily.
The secondary menu’s content will be different depending on where you are, but the visual styles and placement should remain the same. It would be confusing if it changed colors, placement, etc., leaving people guessing.
Sometimes, websites include a separate merchandise store but disguise the urls to make it appear all under the same website. However, the store website has entirely different navigation. Don’t do this - instead, make it clear that you are leaving and going to a different website.
Interesting Further Reading
How to Test This
Assess the navigation of all pages of the website/application (making a collection of screenshots and putting them all up on wall or a virtual collaboration board may be helpful in this case).
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