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Where Should You Put the Links?

Michael Bernard & Spring Hull have made two interesting studies on where to place associated links to an online document.

Their findings show that in terms of search accuracy, time and efficiency, there is no significant difference between placing links at the top-left of a document, to the left at the same height as the related content, in the bottom or embedded in the document. However, 50% of the test participants preferred embedded links.

Bernard and Hull have also observed that repeating embedded links in the left side of a document at the same height as the associated content makes searching faster (though not significantly) and is ranked significantly higher by the users than a layout with just embedded links.

Bernard and Hull also examined users' perceptions of frames, and found that the participants ranked a layout with associated links placed in a left frame significantly higher than a non-framed layout.


  • The article Where Should You Put the Links? A Comparison of Four Locations Open link in new window
  • The article Where Should You Put the Links? Comparing Embedded and Framed/Non-Framed Links Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - June 07, 2002

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See also: Links (19) 



In a world Full of Choice: Simplify

In the article "In a world Full of Choice: Simplify", Pamela Parkers refers to an interesting experiment aimed to shed light on how people make decisions. The study showed that having a wide range of choices might have detrimental consequences for human motivation.

The Columbia University study was conducted in order to see if people would be happier to choose among 30 different types of chocolates, or rather select from six different options.

The study showed that people took significantly more time to make decisions when presented with 30 chocolates. They felt that they had too many choices and that the process of making up their mind was difficult and frustrating.

Pamela Parkers advice to the Web marketers is not to overwhelm visitors with choices, as they could be struck by paralysis. "It may, as with the chocolates, actually discourage them from buying."


  • The article In a world Full of Choice: Simplify Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - May 29, 2002

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See also: E-commerce (27) 



Results of promoting Information Architecture survey

Louis Rosenfeld has put out a brief survey to learn a little bit about whom Information Architects are trying to promote IA to, what gets in the way, and what might help Information Architects to do a better job.

Some highlights from the survey:
- Hardest part of promoting IA: 27% don't get a chance until their projects are too deep into the design/development process
- What would help: 82% plead for ROI cases, 72% for case studies of successful projects
- Hardest audience: Our clients' decision-makers


  • Louis Rosenfeld's comments to the results Open link in new window
  • The results in full detail Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - May 14, 2002

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See also: Implementing user-centred design (9) 



Users have difficulties with drop-down, fly out and rollover menus

Drop-down, fly out and rollover menus are getting more and more common on websites. But a study from UIE shows that users have difficulties using these menus:

- The menus doesn't help users decide where to click because critical information is hidden
- Users expect to be taken to a new page when they click a menu item, and stops to re-evaluate the screen, when more information is suddenly available
- Most of these menus require users to use awkward movements to make simple choices

Some of these difficulties are due to the fact that users decide what they are going to click before they move their mouse. They don't "browse" the menus first.

Their studies also showed that sites with visible sub categories did a better job of getting users to the content they sought and to content they didn't previously know existed.

UIE's advice is that if you are going to use these kinds of menus, do some testing to ensure they are helping your users.


  • The article Users Decide First; Move Second Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - April 21, 2002

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See also: Navigation (63) 



A survey of personalized sites

Jack Aaronson form ClickZ has done a little survey of the best and worst 'My' sites (personalized sites that allow people to manage their personal information). The article lists the most popular and unpopular sites.

The responses show that people are very passionate about personalized sites, and speak of them as if they were best friends or worst enemies.

My favourite "my" site is definitely Backflip - a service for storing your favourite URL's - though it's a bit slow and could be more functional.


  • The article 'My' Sites: And the Winners Are... Open link in new window
  • The site Backflip Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - April 19, 2002

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Shoppers hate advertisements and can't find products

According to a survey carried out by Retail Forward,
- 64% of online shoppers report being satisfied with their shopping experience
- 2% report their online shopping experience to be 'frustation-free'

According to the same survey, the top five online shopping frustrations are:
- Pop-up boxes when shopping a site (52%)
- Banner advertisements (50%)
- Congested Web pages (35%)
- Slow load times (26%)
- Difficult to find a specific product (20%)


  • Press release from Retail Forward Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - March 21, 2002

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See also: Ads (9)  E-commerce (27) 




At you'll find some statistics on browser usage. The statistics are based on the users of the statistic tool.

You'll find statistics on:
- JavaScript (88%)
- Java (87%)
- Operation Systems (63% Windows 98)
- Browsers (MSIE 5.x 62%)
- Screen resolution (52% 800x600 / 3% 640x480)
- Colour depth (52% 16bit)
- Visits by domains
- Visits by weekday


  • Statistics from Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - February 12, 2002

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See also: Browsers (3)  Javascript (3) 



Common design features shared by the Web's top sites

Web Developer's Virtual Library have made some research on what design features the most visited sites in the US have in common. Some of the findings are:

- Verdana as main font (60%)
- White as background colour (90%)
- Default link colours (60%)
- Top navigation (90%)
- Client side JavaScript (100%)
- Style Sheets (70%)
- Page width optimised for 800 pixels width screens
- File size in the 35-35 kb rang with associated files from 30 to 70 kb

In the authors opinion these features define the 'best practice' guidelines for web design, because these are the features that the Web's top sites apply to. Question is if the implementation of these features is the reason why they are the most visited. I doubt it.


  • The article Ten Top Sites Compared Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - February 01, 2002

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See also: Site design (14) 

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