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Where should you put common web elements?

Michael Bernard has conducted two studies, which sought to better understand users' expectations concerning the location of common objects on web sites and e-commerce sites.

Some of the findings show that people expect:
- Links back to the front page to be located top-left of a page
- Internal links to be placed along the left side and external links along the right
- Shopping cart, account and help to be located along the top-right side
- Login to be placed top-left


  • The article Developing Schemas for the Location of Common Web Objects Open link in new window
  • The article Examining User Expectations for the Location of Common E-Commerce Web Objects Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - June 10, 2002

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See also: Search (27)  Web page design (40)  Links (19)  Shopping Carts (9)  Research (129) 



Why Primary Navigation Must Die

According to Kristoffer Bohmann mainstream users focus their attention on content, while ignoring primary navigation, because the information featured is less relevant to their tasks at hand.

He argues that primary navigation bars should be removed completely for three reasons:

1. Primary navigation is rarely needed
2. They are often hard to interpret for users
3. They take up valuable space

Users are better off if they only see a You are Here-indicator (e.g., Home > Articles > Why Primary Navigation Must Die) to better understand how each page on the site is structured relative to the homepage.


  • The article Why Primary Navigation Must Die Open link in new window

Henrik Olsen - May 06, 2002

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See also: Tips and guidelines (95) 



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: Research (129) 

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