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Browsing vs. searching for product information

UIE have tested whether users shopping online prefer to search or use category links when looking for specific products. They found that the design of the site and the type of products being sold determined user behaviour.

Even though many users claim that they always go to search immediately, there wasn't a single user in the study who always chose the search engine first. On the contrary, 20% of the participants chose links exclusively.

UIE concludes that users seem to use the search engine as a fallback when links doesn't satisfy their needs.


  • The article Are There Users Who Always Search?

Henrik Olsen - March 21, 2003

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See also: Research (93)  Search (24) 



Cascading vs. index menu layouts

SURL has compared user performance and satisfaction of horizontal and vertical cascading menus to a categorical index menu layout. They found considerable differences in task completion times that strongly favoured the index menu. The poorest performer, both objectively and subjectively, was the horizontal dropdown menu.


  • The article Cascading versus Indexed Menu Design

Henrik Olsen - March 16, 2003

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Scrolling is faster that paging

SURL has examined the use of paging vs. scrolling in reading passages of text. The study showed that that it took the participants significantly longer to read text split into multiple pages compared to full text layouts, where they had to scroll.

"Participants stated that they found the Paging condition to be "too broken up," and that they had to "go back and forth" quite a bit to search for information. It is possible then, that for searching as well, viewing more of the document on a single screen facilitated easier scanning."


  • The article The Impact of Paging vs. Scrolling on Reading Online Text Passages

Henrik Olsen - February 27, 2003

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



Usability study of breadcrumb navigation

"This exploratory study was conducted to determine whether participants used the breadcrumb trail as a navigational tool within a site. We found the overall usage of the breadcrumb in site navigation to be low. Breadcrumb users were not found to be more efficient than users who did not use the breadcrumb."


  • Breadcrumb Navigation: An Exploratory Study of Usage

Henrik Olsen - February 06, 2003 - via WebWord Weblog

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The art of Navigation

This week Digital Web Magazine publishes a trio of articles on web navigation. Jesse James Garrett, Jeff Lash and Peter-Paul Koch all put in their two cents about navigation... from the theories to the practices.


  • The Psychology of Navigation
  • Persuasive Navigation
  • Navigation Complex

Nick Finck - December 18, 2002 - via Digital Web Magazine

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Transitional Volatility in Web Navigation: Usability Metrics and User Behavior

A Master's thesis on user behaviour in within-site web navigation, supervised by Terry Winograd. You can download the entire thesis, or access PDF versions of each chapter.


  • Transitional Volatility in Web Navigation
  • Important Works for Web Navigation

Dey Alexander - October 27, 2002

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The customer sieve

UIE learned that using a web site is a progressive process, where users are inadvertently filtered out at each stage, as they work to accomplish their goal. The stages act as a sieve. At the e-commerce sites studied, 66% of the purchase-ready shoppers dropped out at various stages in the process because of bad design, inadequate information, or wrong deliveries. By understanding these stages and how they work, we can learn a lot about building better sites.


  • The article The customer sieve

Henrik Olsen - October 17, 2002

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See also: Shopping Charts (5)  E-commerce (21)  Research (93) 



Scrolling may be the best approach for users

Users say they don't like to scroll. As a result, many designers try to keep their web pages short. But a study conducted by UIE showed that users are perfectly willing to scroll. However, they'll only do it if the page gives them strong clues that scrolling will help them find what they're looking for.

Short pages don't help users: "One criticism of long web pages is that they hide some information, forcing users to scroll. Short pages may avoid this potential problem by showing more (or all) of an individual page, but the information is still hidden - on other pages."


  • The article As the Page Scrolls

Henrik Olsen - August 05, 2002

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



Designing your site’s navigation

The article Designing your site’s navigation by Martijn van Welie discusses commonly used solutions for site navigation. The article looks at the pros and cons of each type of navigation scheme and gives advice on when to use which type of scheme.


  • The article Designing your site’s navigation

Henrik Olsen - July 28, 2002

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See also: Tips and guidelines (65) 



Users either click toward their goal, or they click the Back button

In the July 2002 issue of the Good Experience newsletter, Mark Hurst returns to his "page paradigm" that he proposed a couple of years ago.

The page paradigm states that "…on any given Web page, users have a particular goal in mind, and this goal drives their use. Either they click on a link that they think will take them toward the goal, or (seeing no appropriate forward clicks) they click the Back button to take another path."

According to Hurst, designing a user experience with the page paradigm in mind requires three steps:

1. Identify users' goals on each page.
2. De-emphasize or remove any page elements (or areas of a site) that don't help to accomplish the goal.
3. Emphasize (or insert) those links, forms, or other elements that either take users closer to their goal, or finally accomplish it.


  • Online Experience: The Page Paradigm

Henrik Olsen - July 15, 2002

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See also: Tips and guidelines (65) 

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