Today’s question comes from Ganesh Kumar, one of 11,000+ students taking my User Experience Design Fundamentals course on Udemy.

Q: If I am not wrong, interaction design is where we make decisions like what happens when user clicks on a button, e.g. should it launch a new window or take the user to another page etc. Isn’t that the navigation as well? I am very confused on these two elements, could you please clarify?

A: Thanks for the great question Ganesh, and it’s one that gets asked more often than you think. If you haven’t done so yet, read through the similar question here on interaction design vs. interface design, as it’s related and may help. Here’s the short answer to the difference between Navigation Design and Interaction Design:

When I talk about Navigation Design, I am not talking about interaction, or even the interface. Navigation design is the conceptual model of how information is structured and organized, and how the user will get to all of it. Categories, subcategories and links between them.

Navigation design can be done on a piece of paper or with a text-only outline in Microsoft Word — because the only things you’re trying to figure out are:

  1. How much content (or workflow steps) do we have,
  2. How should it all be organized, and
  3. How is it all related?

So in terms of your question, think of it like this:

How a navigation menu behaves when someone
interacts with it is Interaction Design.

What does or doesn’t belong in that navigation menu —
and why — is Navigation Design.

I hope that clears things up for you — good luck and GIVE GOOD UX!

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