UX Word of the Day: Orientation

You are here.

If you’ve ever traveled to another city, then you immediately understand the importance of knowing where you are relative to other things.

And you probably know very well the anxiety — or fear — of feeling lost, confused, or disoriented in a strange city.

Where is your hotel from where you’re standing? Is it 3 blocks or 30 blocks away? Where is the baggage claim or airport bus shuttle? Do you need to find a tram or an escalator to get there?


Knowing where you are within the site, app, or page.

How much longer is this article? Are you still near the top of the page or near the bottom? Glancing at the scrollbar can help you orient your position. But what if there’s no scroll bar?

How many more steps are in this checkout process or online survey? The progress bar provides reassurance that the end is near, unless there isn’t one.

Feeling lost sucks. By providing simple visual indicators, you can help your audience understand where they are and help them in their decision-making process.

Examples of orientation cues:

  • Breadcrumbs – the path of how you got here
  • Progress bar – where you are relative to the total number of steps
  • Scroll bar – the height (or width) of the page
  • Click state – which links or buttons you’ve already clicked
  • Volume control – how much louder can you turn up the sound
  • Video progress bar – how much longer is the video

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Author: Kristine Remer

Kristine Remer is a CX insights leader, UX researcher, and strategist in Minneapolis. She helps organizations drive significant business outcomes by finding and solving customer problems. She never misses the Minnesota State Fair and loves dark chocolate mochas, kayaking, escape rooms, and planning elaborate treasure hunts for her children.