One of the most intriguing features of SharePoint 2013 is Managed Navigation. Per Microsoft, "Managed navigation lets you define and maintain the navigation on a site by using term sets. Managed navigation supplements the existing SharePoint navigation that is based on site structure. You create the managed navigation structure by adding terms to term sets in the Term Store Management tool. You can copy the navigation term set and translate it into the same languages that are used for variations labels."

Source: TechNet

Key aspects of Managed Navigation include:

  • Driving navigation and URLs based on Term Store hierarchies, inclusive of drop downs since terms are hierarchical
  • Clean URLs for end users (ex. http://yourcompany.com/about-us)
  • Controlling navigation settings within Term Store Management
  • Support for Multi-lingual requirements through the use of Variations
  • Possible creation of Cross Site Collection Navigation (aka, Global Navigation)*
Configuring Managed Navigation within a Site Collection
Site Navigation Settings within Term Store Management

* The lack of global navigation, that is the capability to have a uniformed navigation across site collections, has been a major shortcoming of SharePoint for years. It leads to less structure as users are more apt to create their own personal sites and navigation, is harder to maintain structure by having to re-create navigation across each site, complicates capacity planning, forces the implementation of custom navigation, and promotes non-governed environments. This limitation is behind many failed implementations of SharePoint.

The use of Cross Site Publishing, coupled with Managed Navigation, may address this fundamental flaw by allowing the Managed Navigation Term Set in one Site Collection to be referenced in another Site Collection. Other, more discrete, options may be available through the setting of a URL for a Term. I will post a blog to this effect once I figure out the possibilities (the joys of a beta product have left some capabilities not fully baked).

My personal viewpoint is that configuring global navigation is still far too complex and non-intuitive. The capability to select a button within the navigation options of a Site Collection or Site that states "Use Global Navigation", while managing the actual global navigation via a central area similar to Term Store Management, would greatly ease the burden.

In either scenario, Managed Navigation is a tool worth investigating. If not for global navigation, it may ease control over how your site navigation is managed, especially for catalog type sites that are very topical in nature.