Establish sight lines

It is always more effective to let people see where they can go rather than telling them. A long, but narrow view into what might be ahead lets people make informed decisions about where they might go.

In the real world, airports are usually built off of long, continuous hallways, rather than many small rooms. This ensures that people can see a long way and use those sightlines to make their choices, rather than relying entirely on signs. Grocery stores, and other retail, usually place low displays near the entrance so customers can see over them and determine the directions they want to go. Taller aisles are usually placed in the back of the store.

In the digital world, designers often provide a title, thumbnail, and an excerpt for a link, rather than just an anchor that says, “Click here.” These all help people anticipate what is behind that click and determine which direction they want to go. Navigation menus that expand on hover or click without a page reload also help establish longer sightlines.