We're trying to design the navigation for a service that helps digital advertising agencies manage the analytics services of their clients.
So far, from talking to potential customers, we know that:
Agencies want to be able to see both high-level summaries of how their agency is doing as a whole, as well as individual summaries on a per-client basis.
Moving between clients is a very common operation. Agencies want to check on clients one at a time.
Moving between contexts within a client or within the agency is a very common operation. (That is, once you're looking at a client, your next operation is usually to do something else with that client.)
"Clients", "metrics", and "reports" are important first-class citizens.
We're having trouble creating a navigation scheme that addresses all of these thoughts.
Thoughts so far
Initially we thought that we'd have a "context bar" that tells you where you are in the hierarchy at a given moment, and lets you switch contexts as needed. This got good reviews:
Here the search icon expands a search bar that lets you omnisearch across everything for your agency -- clients, reports, metrics, and so on.
Clicking on the text "Chipotle" shows you a dropdown with all the clients, along with a quick status indicator and how much recent activity they've had; this lets you pick a different one quickly:
So, that lets you jump around to arbitrary areas of the site and easily switch between clients, but it doesn't provide much guidance for knowing what you can look at. So for that we need some navigation.
We started with a simple left-hand vertical navigation that contains the major concepts of our service:
Here's the problem:
- If you click on "Metrics" and you're already on a client, you'll presumably go to a list of all the metrics. But what if you just want to look at the metrics for one client?
We can't seem to come up with a way of having useful left-hand navigation that helps people explore at the agency level and at the client level, without being inconsistent.
How do we resolve that conflict?