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11

Browse vs. search

This paper describes an interesting study of e-commerce sites that was set up to determine factors involved in the decision to use search or browse menus to find products.

According to the authors Michael A. Katz and Michael D. Byrne, the decision of a user to search or browse a site is affected by multiple factors including:
- The site information architecture in terms of labeling and menu structure
- The user's inclination to search
- The prominence of search and browse areas

They found that:
- Given broad, high-scent menus, participants searched less than 10% of the time, but they searched almost 40% of the time when faced with narrow, low-scent menus
- Participants showed a higher success rate when using the menus to find products as opposed to search
- Searching for products wasn't faster or more accurate than browsing

Links:

Henrik Olsen - February 24, 2005

Permanent link Comments (1)

See also: Search (24)  E-commerce (21)  Research (93) 


 

12

Banner blindness is determined by navigation style

In a study, Magnus Pagedarm and Heike Schaumbrug found that when users browse websites "aimlessly", they are significantly better at recalling and recognising banner ads compared to users searching for specific information.

The authors suggest that navigation style exerts a significant influence on users' attention focusing. Directed search focuses users' attention on areas of the site that are expected to contain relevant information, while aimless browsing is guided by the appeal of the different features on a web page.

Links:

  • The article Why Are Users Banner-Blind?

Henrik Olsen - January 11, 2005

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See also: Ads (6)  Research (93) 


 

13

Navigation blindness

The Q1 2005 issue of GUUUI looks at how people navigate websites. Most web development projects put a lot of effort into the design of navigation tools, but fact is that users tend to ignore them. They are fixated on getting what they came for and simply click on links or hit the back button to get there. This behaviour suggests that navigation should be designed to be a more integral part of website experience.

Links:

Henrik Olsen - January 04, 2005

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See also: GUUUI articles (8) 


 

14

Trigger words makes users dig into a site

According to Jared Spool, users browse websites using a Move-Forward-Until-Found Rule:

"...a web page can do only one of two things: either it contains the content the user wants or it contains the links to get them to the content they want. If a page doesn't follow this rule, then the users stop clicking..."

Trigger words is what makes users dig in to a site - words that contain the essential elements that provide the motivation to continue with the site.

In a study where the test participants were first interviewed about what they hoped to find on a number of large websites, UIE found that when the participants were successful in finding their target content, the words that they used in the interview appeared 72% of the time on the site's front page. When they where unsuccessful, their words appeared only 6% of the time.

UIE also found that when the participants didn't find any trigger words, they were far more likely to use the site's search function.

Links:

  • The article The Right Trigger Words

Henrik Olsen - December 13, 2004

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See also: Text (13)  Links (12)  Research (93) 


 

15

Is Navigation Useful?

In an article from 2000, Jakob Nielsen states that navigation is overdone at many sites. His studies have shown the same user behaviour over and over again:

- Users look straight at content and ignore navigation areas
- Users look only for the one thing they have in mind
- Users will ruthlessly click the Back button if a page isn't relevant to the their goals
- Users don't understand where they are in a website
- Users don't spend time learning certain design elements

Nielsen's advice is to get rid of superfluous navigation:

- Limit pervasive linking to maybe five or six things
- Do not link to all sections from all pages - let people go back to the front page
- Use breadcrumbs to link to all levels of the hierarchy above the current location
- Provide useful links to related content

Links:

  • The article Is Navigation Useful?

Henrik Olsen - December 03, 2004

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See also: Tips and guidelines (65) 


 

16

Paging vs. scrolling search results

In a study from 2002, SURL examined how much information should be presented at one time on a search result page.

In the study, users were asked to locate specific links on three different search result pages:
- One layout with 10 links per page
- One with 50 links per page
- One with 100 links on one page

The study showed that participants favoured and performed best on layouts with both reduced paging and scrolling.

Overall, the fifty-link condition had the fastest search time and was most preferred, possible because this layout required only a limited amount of paging.

The layout with hundred links page was by far least preferred, while the ten link layout performed the worst.

Links:

  • The article Paging vs. Scrolling

Henrik Olsen - September 18, 2004

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See also: Search (24)  Research (93) 


 

17

Designing the optimal flow

Psychologists have studied "optimal human experience" for many years, often called "being in the flow". In his paper, Benjamin B. Bederson reviews the literature on flow, and takes a look at how it can be related to interface design.

An optimal flow has the following characteristics:
- It challenges us and requires skill without being too hard to use
- It makes it possible for us to concentrate and focus at the task at hand without interruption
- It allow us to stay in control
- It gives us immediate feedback about progress
- It makes us lose track of time

What is most surprising about the findings is that when we experience the optimal flow, we are challenged and have to spend effort to acquire skills.

Links:

  • The paper Interfaces for Staying in the Flow

Henrik Olsen - September 08, 2004 - via UI Designer

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See also: Research (93) 


 

18

Users' expectations on the location of common page elements

SURL has examined where users from four geographical areas worldwide expect common web page elements on e-commerce sites to be located. The results showed that users generally expected:
- Links to the front page to be located at the top-left of the page
- Ads to be located at the top of the page
- Internal links to be located at the left side of the page
- External links to be located at the left and right sides of the page
- Links to shopping carts and help to be located at the top-right of the page

Links:

  • The article Preliminary Examination of Global Expectations of Users' Mental Models for E-Commerce Web Layouts

Henrik Olsen - August 04, 2004

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See also: Web page design (23)  Links (12)  Research (93) 


 

19

Web-usability is improving

According to a survey conducted in late 2003 by the Nielsen Norman Group, usability on the web is on the upswing.

Some results from the survey:
- The overall success rate of completing a site-specific task was 66 percent and 60 percent for web-wide tasks. This compares to an overall success rate of 40 percent in a similar survey conducted in 1997.
- For site-specific tasks, the success rates of the less- and more-experienced groups were 59 percent and 72 percent, respectively, while web-wide tasks were completed at a rate of 52 percent and 67 percent, respectively.
- Web users are being more precise in their choice of search terms. In 1994 the mean length of a search query was 1.3 word, in 1997 1.9 word, and in 2003 2.2 words.
- One area in need of improvement is site search. While 56 percent of the searches done using a popular search engine were successful, only 33 percent of searches using a specific site's search tool succeeded.

Links:

  • The article Web-User Satisfaction on the Upswing

Henrik Olsen - May 13, 2004

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See also: Research (93)  Site design (8)  Search (24) 


 

20

The Page Paradigm again, again

Mark Hurst goes about his Page Paradigm once again, and he is forgiven, since it has a simplicity and consequence to it that Einstein would have loved.

Mark's Paradigm goes like this: On any given web page, users will either...
- click something that appears to take them closer to the fulfilment of their goal,
- or click the Back button on their Web browser.

This time Mark takes a look at some of the inherent consequences of the Paradigm, which includes:
- Users don't much care where they are in a website
- Users ignore breadcrumbs and other navigational elements that don't lead them toward their goal
- Consistency doesn't help users

What matters to the users is whether it's easy to advance to the next step towards their goal and elements that don't do the job will simply be ignored.

Einstein said that "Things should be made as simple as possible, but not any simpler." Some argue that Mark's Paradigm might be too simple.

Links:

Henrik Olsen - March 09, 2004

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See also: Web page design (23)  Tips and guidelines (65) 


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