After cycling through a list of my favorite sites I decided to select Facebook.com and Blockbuster.com for this post because I found their navigation schemes very intuitive.
Facebook in my opinion took a very simplistic and minimalistic approach when they designed their site and its navigation. For example, when you login to your account you will find on the upper left hand side a generic section of the site common areas to all users like news, messages, events, photos and friends. Below this in a separate navigation menu is a list of applications that a user has elected to access through bookmarks. Finally in the upper right hand corner of the site contains links to administer the user’s account like account settings, public profile, and a link back to the users’ home page.
Blockbuster on the other had tried to make site navigation a little more slick by using a menu-submenu approach to navigation where user can click on things like Rent, Buy, On Demand, Games, Stores, and Gifts and a submenu of corresponding items appears below the original menu item. In addition they also took this approach and added categorized lists of movies that they offer on the homepage so that users can click on an item like “DVD Spotlight” and a list of movies represented as actual DVD box cases appear on the user’s screen so they can scroll through the list by using left and right arrows on either side of the images displayed.
Both Facebook and Blockbuster have more than one navigation groupings because their respected sites are so large and offer an absorbent amount of features. Because of this reason they have to group the main functionality of information in to logical groups based on their actions they perform and the access to specific information. For example it would not make sense for Facebook to include a particular game you like to play within your account with a section pertaining to account administration. The game link would be completely out of place and really confuse the users experience because the groupings where not logically grouped.
In addition I think that Facebook users would benefit if Facebook allowed its users to specify what they want on the general navigation from within their site or at least create a section to show frequently accessed pages or favorite sections. Finally regarding additional navigation, I think blockbuster users really benefit from the submenu system of categorizing data, and if fact Blockbuster even allows them to refine the information they are looking for through the use of secondary submenu systems allowing users to really drill down in to what they are looking for to learn more on.
I do not think that having more than one navigation bar on a web page is not confusing for the user. For example if you have a navigation bar at the top of your page and at the bottom will allow users to move around the website easier because they can utilize the navigation closest to where their cursor is on the page. In regards to designers forcing all the navigation in to one navigation bar, I think it would be hard for the user to fully understand what is going on based on the size and complexity of the site they are dealing with. For example Blockbuster has a ton of content that could not easily be put in to one navigation bar.
From my experience with both Facebook and Blockbuster, they both do a good job with cross browser compatibility. I have had no issues with either site in IE, Firefox, Chrome, and Safari over the years. In addition, I do not believe that either Facebook or Blockbuster require any additional plug-in to utilize their navigation bars.