I recently received an email from DirecTV promoting their new website. They had been teasing the redesign for a while and the email hyped up many new features. Most of the upgrades seemed standard but one feature caught my eye — “A Revolutionary Navigation”. Revolutionary? I’ve seen and designed all sorts of navigation options but “Revolutionary” is a strong word. So, despite my skepticism, I clicked through to see the never-been-done menu. And wouldn’t you know it, it was revolutionary. It was one of the best user-experienced designed navigation options I’ve seen.

It’s easy to dismiss navigation when thinking about user experience. Menus are just links to other pages, right? How creative can you get? Well, DirecTV thought very creatively. What makes the DirecTV navigation so impressive is the thought and consideration behind the user experience.

Customers either come to DirecTV to find out about the service or to look up programming information. Instead of having two bulky sets of navigation, or condensed navigation without enough options, the toggling in the navigation allows the user to pick their section set. The toggle call-out is clearly defined and the animation is snappy. It’s a beautifully designed menu that solves a complex problem DirecTV faced.

Once the user hovers over a main menu item, a drop down appears with even more links. This is a mega-menu approach. Instead of a singular list of sub-links, a mega menu is a panel that can format links into categories or columns and feature other elements like photos or video. The organization of the mega-menu allows DirectTV users to go directly to an interior page quickly and without additional clicks.

The culmination is a user experience where the user doesn’t have to dig far to find the relevant information and the fined-tuned animation reinforces DirecTV’s “Leader in TV Entertainment” messaging.

Not every site needs this level of functionality, but even the simplest site’s navigation needs to be closely considered. How many clicks will a user need to make to access the deepest level of content? Will the user likely be jumping to several interior pages quickly? These questions and many more affect whether the site has drop downs, side navigation and other features. If you take the time to evaluate your customer base and how they interact with your content you’re more likely to walk away with a quality navigation user experience.