NPR's Interesting Navigation



The navigation on NPR is unique for a couple reasons.


  1. To find the “digital life” section you might have to click the following links: Business > Technology > Digital Life, but you would not be able to navigate here directly. They hide sometimes several levels of links, there are no drop-downs. You just have to click and find out.

  2. In addition to this, links are sometimes redundant. For example, Technology contains Digital Life and Business; but Digital Life also contains Technology; and Business contains Technology and several other links. It’s a highly subjective style of navigation.

In reference to (1) above: it’s is an interesting choice to make. just musing here: is an experience of ‘getting lost’ on the site something they’re trying to design for? in the best sense, it could perhaps amount to some kind of serendipitous discovery? designing for serendipity? numerically it seems to promote something like “pages per visit” …

(2) this seems like it already has a name, this kind of weird phenomenological IA :joy: :sweat_smile: It’s like someone thought “we have these related articles here at the bottom… why don’t we just do that with navigation labels too, at the top?”

For reference:

ya’ll have any thoughts on either of these?

Some thoughts on this community


I took a quick gander at the site. It feels like a nightmare to me. :frowning:

It does look easy to get lost in there. I don’t like being lost.


Wow. I agree, that is super complicated. At first I thought perhaps some of the nav items were tags that crossed categories but I don’t think that’s the case.


I agree this is hard to navigate. It makes me wonder if designing for serendipity consciously might be a cool way to handle their IA :slight_smile: I bet they have a bit of an organizational challenge, too. The ‘set your station’ link just takes me to another page instead of trying to use any of the IA of the parent org site.


To be fair, I want to believe the weird nav is a feature and not a bug :blush:
Their product team has a whole sub-section of the site -

eventually i’ll get some time to dig through it.


It reminds me of someone browsing youtube - watch news clip, then related news videos, then even more videos and then after while wondering how on earth u ended up watching clips of cats playing keyboards :grinning:

Like you mentioned, this could be intentional and one of their KPIs? Lots of sideways movement in an endless loop boosts time on site, page views, which could be good metrics for potential advertisers? Maybe their users want to get lost and kill some time? Who knows


I have the strong impression that “user research always produces really surprising results” - and yet it also appears increasingly so that parts of the internet look more like others. while i might assume that most people aren’t doing research, we should occasionally find something unusual or strange emerge out in the wild, right?

i think this is partly what excited me about it, and the fact that i stumbled onto it while actually researching competitors! :grin: