One of the cardinal rules of Web design usability is that your navigation elements should be consistent across the entire site.
For a long time, I’ve liked reddit quite a lot. It’s sorta like Digg++, with a generally better quality of front-page headlines, better discussions, a better interface for essentially everything — just a whole lot of better. Of course, considering how awful much of Digg’s qualities are, that’s not so difficult.
Good ol’ reddit has been undergoing a lot of changes lately. I dislike some of them. One in particular is a very minor, perhaps even trivial, problem — but it’s such a blatant violation of the most basic of good design sense that it really bugs the crap out of me.
There’s a navigation element that appears on the comment page for all reddit headlines. Unfortunately, it’s located in a different place, and looks very different, depending on how you arrived at the comment page. So much for the Principle of Least Surprise.
I grabbed some screenshots to show examples of the problem. Look for the letters RPG in each case.
Example 1: The Website Title Line
In this example, the RPG cateogry link is located on the Website title line.
Example 2: The Headline
In this example, the RPG category link is located with the headline.
Example 3: The Submission Line
In this example, the RPG category link is located in the submission line.
Because of the varied placement and appearance of the category link (in this case, for the RPG category), it’s not immediately recognizable as a link at all a lot of the time. This is exactly the sort of problem that consistent navigation elements are meant to avoid.