Navigating this Site
The Alberta Education website has several navigational elements and understanding their function will help improve the user experience navigating the site. The website is very large and requires a robust global navigation system.
The Global navigation is the structural navigation that is consistent and persistent throughout the site. Starting with the home page at the top level, the Alberta Education website uses hierarchical navigation within the menus. It contains primary navigation, secondary navigation, tertiary navigation, lateral navigation, site map, breadcrumbs and utility navigation.
Top Navigation (Primary)
The top navigation menu contains main sections with blue labels (tabs) just below the header. The main sections in the top menu are: Department Information, Students, Parents, Teachers, Administrators, French, Tools and Services. The active navigation in the top menu is displayed with a grey label when clicked on. Secondary navigation then displays below in the left menu with grey labels.
Left Navigation (Secondary)
The grey left menu allow users to navigate within each of the main sections. The active navigation in the left menu is displayed with a white label and bold black font. As users navigates deeper, a lighter grey appears around the related content in the menu. As users navigate deeper in the site, there is a slight indentation in the menu, indicating that content below belongs to the topic above. Arrows in the left menu indicate that there are additional levels of content associated with that topic. Click on a left facing arrow to view the content below.
Section Navigation (Tertiary)
Entitled Section Navigation, this navigation only appears for sections (or subsites) with deeper levels of content. It will display at the top right and is persitent only for that section.
Lateral Navigation (Previous / Next)
This navigation is located at the bottom right of the content page within each lower level section (or subsite). It displays "Previous" or "Next" buttons that enables users to go to the next page within that section.
The Site Map is based on the global / hierarchical navigation and is generated automatically. It enables users to get a high-level view of the site content and quickly access specific content.
Breadcrumbs (Location Bar)
The breadcrumb trail is located just below the header. It enables users to see where they are in terms of site hierarchy as they navigate deeper.
Header and Footer (Utility Navigation)
This refers to the links in the header and footer that are global (persistent throughout the site). The content in the header and footer contain utility content such as: Contact Us, Search, Site Map, Privacy, Copyright, etc.
The Government of Alberta logo and the Education ministry name are displayed in the header at the top left. Clicking on it takes users to the Alberta Education home page. The Province of Alberta signature is displayed in the footer at the bottom left. Clicking on it takes users to Alberta Brand website.
Usability is enhanced by the consistent labeling (taxonomy) throughout the site for the navigation menus, page titles, browser bar titles, breadcrumbs, site map and URL structure.