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Breadcrumb usage requires training

SURL has made another interesting study on breadcrumb usage – the third mentioned here at GUUUI.

Previous studies have shown that while the use of breadcrumbs can be helpful, few users choose to use them. This time SURL wanted to find out whether exposing participant to usage of breadcrumbs in the start of a test was enough to enhance participants' frequency of breadcrumb usage.

SURL found that minimal training did affect participants' usage of the breadcrumb trails and resulted in quicker completion times, fewer page views, and minimal use of the back button. But mere exposure to breadcrumbs usage was not enough to significantly influence their usage more than the participants who received no exposure.


Henrik Olsen - February 24, 2004

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See also: Research (93) 



Myth of the three-click rule

If you design web sites, you probably heard this statement: "I should be able to find everything on a site in just three clicks".

After hearing about the three-click rule for many years and having it as a requirement in some client projects, UIE decided to find out if the rule was true. By analyzing data from a study of 44 users attempting 620 tasks, UIE found that:

- There was no correlation between the number of times users clicked and their success in finding the content they sought.
- There wasn't any more likelihood of a user quitting after three clicks than after 12 clicks.
- An 80% task completion rate was seen after an average of 15 clicks.
- There was no correlation between the number of times users clicked and their reported satisfaction with the site.

UIE concludes that "The number of clicks isn't what is important to users, but whether or not they're successful at finding what they're seeking."


  • The article Testing the Three-Click Rule

Henrik Olsen - November 27, 2003

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Common web design practices

At the site Web Design Practices by Heidi P. Adkisson you'll find statically research on common design practices currently in use on the Web, covering items such as global and local navigation, breadcrumbs, search and links.

The site can be useful as a guide for making design decisions, but as Adkisson says:

"The data presented are intended to inform design decisions, not dictate them. Common practice does not necessarily equate with best practice - and the relationship between consistency and usability on the Web is remains a lightly researched area."

The site is an outgrowth of Adkisson's Master's thesis.


  • The site Common Design Practices

Henrik Olsen - October 13, 2003

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See also: Links (12)  Search (24)  Web page design (23)  Research (93) 



Product lists' impact on sales

A study conducted by the usability consultancy UIE has show that the design of product lists at e-commerce sites can have great impact on sales.

UIE found that when product lists provided enough information for the test participants to make informed product selections they where five times more likely to add items to their shopping carts, than when they had to click back and forth between product lists and product description pages - a behaviour named pogo-sticking by UIE. Also, the participants who didn't find enough information in the product lists where one-third more likely to quit shopping and had lower opinions of the site.

They study was conducted with 30 people who were given money to spend on products they wanted to buy.


  • The article Are the Product Lists on Your Site Reducing Sales? (registration required)

Henrik Olsen - September 27, 2003

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



Breadcrumb Navigation: Further Investigation of Usage

SURL have completed second study of breadcrumb usage:

Some major findings:
- 40% of the participants used the breadcrumb trail
- Only 6% of the page clicks where accounted for by the breadcrumb – the main navigation bar, back button, and embedded links were used the majority of the time
- The Back button was used significantly less often by users who used the breadcrumb trails
- The were no difference found in efficiency between breadcrumb users and users who didn't use the breadcrumb
- Breadcrumb trails positioned under the page title were used more than breadcrumb trails positioned at the top of the page


Henrik Olsen - August 24, 2003

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Jakob Nielsen on information foraging

"…information foraging uses the analogy of wild animals gathering food to analyze how humans collect information online."

"The two main strategies are to make your content look like a nutritious meal and signal that it's an easy catch. These strategies must be used in combination: users will leave if the content is good but hard to find, or if it's easy to find but offers only empty calories."


  • Information Foraging: Why Google Makes People Leave Your Site Faster

Henrik Olsen - July 02, 2003

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See also: Search (24) 



Breadth vs. depth in menu design

According to Kath Straub and Susan Weinschenk, research shows that users generally find information faster in broad and shallow structured sites than the narrow and deep ones – as long as they are not extremely broad.

"Research comparing navigation efficiency through sites of varying depths and breadths broadly converges on the findings that users find roughly 16 (ungrouped) top-level links leading into 2-3 subsequent menus the most efficient, learnable and least error prone."

But several other factors are also thought to influence ease of navigation, such as clear and distinct labels, and effective sub-grouping of categories.


  • The article Breadth vs. Depth

Henrik Olsen - June 26, 2003

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The myth of 7 +/- 2

Periodically, we hear about the rule of 7 +/- 2 from inexperienced interaction designers: Users can't handle more than 7 bullets on a page, seven items in a form list, or more than seven links in a menu. According to James Kalback, this has no evidence in reality – on the contrary. The psychologist George Miller's conclusions apply to what we can memorize – not what we can perceive.

Current research strongly supports that broad structures perform better than deep structures. Users can more easily cope with broad structures, they have a greater chance of getting lost in deep hierarchical structures, and new visitors are able to get a better overview of sites offerings from a broader structure.


  • The Myth of Seven, Plus or Minus 2

Henrik Olsen - June 23, 2003

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See also: Research (93)  Information architecture (12)  Links (12) 



Searching vs. linking on the web

Sanjay J. Koyani and Robert W Bailey have surveyed the available literature on linking and searching. They have organized their findings into a series of observations and guidelines.

Some highlights:
- Users have no predisposition to searching or linking, and designers need to accommodate both strategies.
- Users are generally more effective when using links than search
- Advanced search features don't help users
- Users are progressively less and less likely to succeed with additional searches, and designers should make every effort to ensure that users get relevant results on their first attempt
- Designers need to be aware of, and make provision for, the terms that users typically will use for searching
- Search should accommodate misspellings, inappropriate case, spaces and punctuation, misused plurals, and typing errors


Henrik Olsen - May 17, 2003

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See also: Research (93)  Search (24) 



Usability Myths Need Reality Checks

Will Schroeder looks at some common Usability myths that have cemented themselves into our profession's foundation and started questioning how they got there.


  • UIE - Usability Myths Need Reality Checks

Tim Lucas - March 23, 2003

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See also: Research (93)  Web page design (23)  Usability testing (30) 

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