At least that’s what ESPN says they did in “A Guide to the new ESPN.com navigation.”

What is the easiest way to navigate ESPN.com? We’ve created a special guide for you.

Is it 1994, when you had to explain navigation to people? When’s the last time you read a how-to guide regarding Web browsing?

This is design by fear, admitting that maybe the design won’t work as well as the old one or reaction to it will be worse than expected. Good design shouldn’t have to be explained—especially when that design is the first thing a user experiences when navigating to your page.

If ESPN were so fearful of making this change to their site, why not make this “special guide” part of the experience? Better yet, why not test the design with people or use the time spent creating this page to make it better in the first place?

As people use information appliances more and more as part of their daily lives their experience with interfaces increases to the point where handholding isn’t as required as it once was. Having a manual should be seen as a design failure for an application. For navigation it’s simply bizarre.

(Thanks to Jason for chiming in!)

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