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Interaction Design Patterns

Interaction Design Patterns are descriptions of re-usable solutions to common design problems expressed in a standard format. Martijn van Welie has compiled a set of about 60 user-oriented web, GUI, and mobile patterns, making it one of the largest collections for Interaction Design. At his site you'll also find some background articles about Interaction Design Patterns.


  • Martijn van Welie's collection of Interaction Design Patternes

Henrik Olsen - July 02, 2002

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See also: Tools (51)  Design patterns (4) 



Left navigation vs. right navigation

While redesigning Audi's main websites, Razorfish did an extensive test of left navigation vs. right navigation. The results showed that:
- There was no significant difference in completion times between the two navigation types for any task.
- People tended to focus more on the content with a right navigation than with a left navigation.
- Users were apathetic towards the navigation position.

In the light of the study James Kalbach from Razorfish concludes that "Don Norman's concept of affordance - the perceived properties of a thing that determine how it is to be used - seems to be a better predictor of usability than conforming to standards or matching patterns to user expectations. With the Audi site, it is clear what is navigation and what is not. Users can build a pattern of interaction with the site immediately."


  • The article Challenging the Status Quo: Audi Redesigned

Henrik Olsen - June 17, 2002

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Reduce Redundancy

According to Jakob Nielsen "User interface complexity increases when a single feature or hypertext link is presented in multiple ways. Users rarely understand duplicates as such, and often waste time repeating efforts or visiting the same page twice by mistake."


  • The article Reduce Redundancy: Decrease Duplicated Design Decisions

Henrik Olsen - June 11, 2002

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See also: Links (12)  Tips and guidelines (65) 



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
  • The article Examining User Expectations for the Location of Common E-Commerce Web Objects

Henrik Olsen - June 10, 2002

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See also: Search (24)  Web page design (23)  Links (12)  Shopping Charts (5)  Research (93) 



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

Henrik Olsen - May 06, 2002

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See also: Tips and guidelines (65) 



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

Henrik Olsen - April 21, 2002

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See also: Research (93) 

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