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When not to phone "Home"


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#1 cre8pc

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Posted 10 November 2003 - 03:33 PM

I attend an Interfaith church and every Sunday we have a 2 hour long "Celebration". We never know what to expect from a minister that loves to dance and yesterday was no exception. We did a "Swirl Dance" whereby everyone in the congregation joins hands and, with the minister leading, we snake around the room in a series of circles, similar to a tribal dance. There's a drum in the background, and we're singing and after awhile, many of us are laughing so hard we can barely stand up!

As the circle got tighter and tighter and people were squished closer and closer together, one of my friends turns to me and says "I hope you're not claustrophobic!" Well, actually I am. But just as it seemed there was nowhere else to go in the circle, we were led out into wider and wider circles until we were back home, all standing in one large open circle again. The snake had uncoiled.

All this reminds me of website navigation.

Today's http://www.useit.com...x/20031110.html
Alertbox entry from Jakob Nielsen is called "The Ten Most Violated Homepage Design Guidelines". In it he says,

10. Don't include an active link to the homepage on the homepage.


This has always been one of the criteria in my usability tests and it's one of the check points in my new http://www.cre8pc.com/ringbell.html - Please Ring Bell for Service - A Usability Checklist for Ecommerce Websites e-report.

The reason I don't advise web pages that link to themselves is that it's confusing to visitors who are used to clicking on a link and going somewhere new. Like the Swirl Dance, you get into a groove where you're constantly moving, and each click takes you further into the adventure. Navigation should always provide a way back "Home" and that way should be easy to find. Thank heavens the Swirl Dance had a leader to guide us as we nearly got all tangled up inside the circles within circles!

There's other good points in today's Alertbox checklist. But, of course, you get way more than 10 checkpoints with MY checklist!

Kim

#2 Ron Carnell

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Posted 10 November 2003 - 05:16 PM

I disagree with several of Nielsen's Ten Violations, but I disagree with this one the most vehemently. Following his dictum violates what I think is the MOST important rule for all site navigation -- Consistency.

If someone comes to my home page and points their mouse at the graphic logo, the last thing I want to do is tell them it's not a link. 'Cause, chances are they'll never check it again, and of course, it IS a link on every other page of the web site. Nor do I want to change menu or footer structure on just about every page of the site. Item #7 on a list of links should never get pushed to #8 or squeezed back to #6 because links have been removed, and a list of links should never contain something that is not a link. Where appropriate, and that usually only means a vertical list of text links, I include a "You are here" tag after the link because it doesn't substantially change the layout they are learning to trust. Even that isn't an option, though, with a vertical list (footer) or graphical list (menu). IMO, a consistent implementation is FAR more important to usability than a link that will return them to where they already are.

Quickly ... change your TV to channel 41. Did the 4 or 1 suddenly disappear from your remote control?

#3 cre8pc

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Posted 10 November 2003 - 05:39 PM

Ron,

What you suggest are good workarounds. When I test sites, in nearly every case, the homepage links to itself with a text or image link that says "Home". This is often in addition to the logo which is clickable. I never call attention in my reports to linked logos because so many people don't know to use them to get home and for those that do, they're a lifesaver when you get lost. For a homepage, a link "Home" is wasted real estate when the purpose of the homepage is to suck them in and interest them in clicking deeper into the site.

I don't push redesigns on my clients when I see this mistake though. Nobody wants to hear that. What they want are workarounds for what they already have. Like you say, in many designs, "Home" is the top link in most vertical nav schemes and locked into the overall template. Instead of removing the label of a page because you don't want it to link to itself (which kills the consistency aspect of navigation), I suggest using it as a pointer. As you say, the label can be a "You Are Here" indicator. I usually recommend the easy route of unlinking the label, boldfacing it (if it's text) and even enlarging the font face as part of the "You Are Here" trigger.

Some sites have 2, 3, 4, or more links that go nowhere but a refresh. JN is pretty cut throat at times, but he also sees the same things happening over and over again. So do I. I'm trying to help web designers focus on efficiency. Web site visitors have very little patience. Make each click count and don't waste their time going in circles. :)

Kim

#4 Adrian

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Posted 10 November 2003 - 07:04 PM

I can't say I think its a problem having a 'home' link on the home page, and, as Ron say, I think consistancy is a standard requirement.

I also don't think having just a linked logo is enough either though. Some sites link them, some don't, if I see a link that says 'home' I'm going to go for that rather than testing the logo to see if it links there too.

With a well structured site, I would think it should be fairly easy to tell which page your on anyway. If the title of the page is 'blue widgets' or is about blue widgets and I see a link for 'blue widgets', I'm thinking that the link is for the page I'm already on.

Regardless of whether you have redundant links on the page or not, I think its important for a visitor to know where they are anyway. I can't see that they are going to have an easy time getting round a site if they don't know where they are.

If you can disable and highlight in some way any links that link to the current page, I don't see a problem with that though. Its a bit of work to do though, unless you use some fairly crafty serverside stuff to work out which page your on and to find and disable any links to it (though in many cases, a comparision of the file name against parsed links would work I guess and be relatively easy to impliment).

I'd much rather have the consistancy in the nav bars first, then worry if people are going to be confused by a self linking link. Though I think if that were the case, I'd also want t be looking at the structure of my site to see why people think they would be going to a different page.

#5 peter_d

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Posted 11 November 2003 - 02:10 AM

MOST important rule for all site navigation -- Consistency.  


Agreed Ron. I also think "Don't include an active link to the homepage on the homepage" is wrong in some contexts. It implies that the user will only be given signals about where they are by examining the main navigation structure. There are often more effective ways to signpost this.

They are just guidelines, of course. Requires thought as to how they should be applied, or when they should be disregarded altogether.

#6 DianeV

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Posted 11 November 2003 - 02:32 AM

Well, I agree, too. I have found that uniform navigation is more conducive to ease of understanding than a constantly shifting menu.

While the menu is hopefully not the only indication of where the user is, looking at it from a "what's in front of your eyes" perspective, removing the link altogether simply means that the one link pertinent to the page the user is on is missing(!).

On the other hand, to insist that the "home page" link on the home page not be clickable -- and yet allow other page-specific links to be clickable -- is inconsistent and therefore a step away from what the user might find logical.

A brief look at both amazon.com and cnn.com reveal that *both* have a clickable link on the home page. Both highlight the button, to be sure, but they're both clickable.

I am sure that many of us have read all kinds studies and "musts"; my thought is that it's good to examine these to see where they may fall on a scale of true through false.

#7 peter_d

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Posted 11 November 2003 - 04:16 AM

What is the cost to the user of clicking a link leading to the exact same page the user is currently on? That they may have to then click another link instead? Big deal. At very least that action has instilled in them that the way to get back to the home page is to click that "home" button.

I doubt that any user would become so confused at having clicked on a link that says "home", only to find the exact same screen again, that they no longer know where they are, what they are doing or what their name is.

More importantly, how did that person manage to switch on the PC in the first place? :)

#8 bwelford

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Posted 11 November 2003 - 06:08 AM

Yes, I agree. I think Jakob was wrong on this one. I think he got caught by the Intelligence Trap. He can't see that there are other points of view, which have been well expressed here.

In addition, we can all make mistakes. :crazyeyes: Sometimes you forget where you are. So you click on Home. Oops. I'm there already. No harm done. No frustration. What's the big deal.

#9 cre8pc

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Posted 11 November 2003 - 07:30 AM

So what you all are saying is that it's perfectly alright to hit a link and not go anywhere - that a refresh action instead of a going to a new page is fine?

I understand where JN is coming from. He, and others in usability and human factors fields, watch how people use websites. They ask questions. They note what confuses or frustrate website visitors. A link that performs an unexpected funtion is frustrating. When added to a pile of other things that may be frustrating a visitor. it adds up. The risk is frustrating the user so much that they leave the site entirely. All he, or I, is saying is watch out for possible stumbling blocks to overall ease of use.

My background is in software engineering. A button or link has to perform an expected function or it's considered a defect. Consider too the learnability of an application or web site. At all times you want to support user confidence.

Unhooking and bold facing a link doesn't change the order of navigation. Peter brings up another less common usability oriented point that navigation alone should not be the sole indicator of where you are. Other elements are helpful, such as color changes to show a new section.

As a user, I don't enjoy links that behave as refresh buttons. I don't expect this function to occur when I click on it.

Kim

#10 Ron Carnell

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Posted 11 November 2003 - 11:55 AM

A button or link has to perform an expected function or it's considered a defect.


And that expected function, Kim, shouldn't change from page to page.

Just about everything we do, in software, rests on a teeter-totter, with the "cost" always sitting directly across from us. You want faster reads in your database? Fine, but it'll cost you considerably more disk space and a little more time on your writes. You want a program to carry a small RAM footprint? Okay, but it won't execute as quickly. You want to use image buttons to cue location by changing appearance? We can do that, but those new images won't be cached and will both increase your bandwidth and slow down the page load. Everything carries a cost. Some situations will warrant paying that cost, others won't.

In my opinion, the ideal solution is to point the same-page link at a JavaScript routine. Use it to reach across the wires and smack them up side the head with a pop-up window. "Hey, you're already there stupid!" I often do something similar with a Submit button (though my message is slightly more tactful), but I doubt I will ever do it with a same-page link. Even if pop-up blockers weren't removing that option, I feel the cost of adding the code to every page is too high to pay. I choose a faster download for everyone, rather than less confusion for a very few. If my logs were to indicate a whole lot of confused people reloading the same page, I might have to reconsider.

I still think the absolute worst thing you can throw into a user's face is a non-functional link. It worked before, but doesn't work now? If they already know where they are, they probably won't click it. If they don't know where they are, doing nothing when they click it isn't giving them a whole lot of feedback and it certainly doesn't diminish their confusion. It only compounds it. At least by reloading the page, you give them a base line from which to proceed. "I didn't know where I was, but now I know where I am." A non-functional link, in my opinion, essentially ignores their click request and leaves them feeling powerless. On the web or off, unless there is the danger of losing or corrupting data, a user should be allowed to do what they want. 'Cause the only thing worse than confusion is frustration.

#11 cre8pc

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Posted 11 November 2003 - 12:09 PM

A link is indicated by an underline or change in hover color or some sort of clue that it's a link. Removing the tell tale signs that it's a link tells me it's not a link, but is a "You Are Here" pointer. The label is the same, but the function signal has changed.

For text readers, how productive, I wonder, is it to send the user to a page they're already on? Blind users are going by feedback other than sight signals. If a website requirement says "Be accessible to special needs users", I would think about twice about making things more frustrating than they already put up with.

I don't mind obvious signals. For myself, putting the word "Home" on my homepage would seem to say "I know you're idiot and can't tell this is the homepage, so I'm going to label it "Home" and make that link refresh the screen so you can't go anywhere." Going nowhere, in my mind, is a different function than going somewhere new :D

Kim

#12 James

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Posted 11 November 2003 - 12:24 PM

An interesting onversation. Interestingly (as Steve Krug says), Amazon don't have a Home link. They have a 'Welcome' Tab. Interestingly I've never clicked it. However, that Welcome link is linked even on the homepage.

The cre8asite forum hasn't got a home link. However, it has a logo that links to the home page. Even from the home page.

Personally, I have no strong views either way. Sometimes, hiding the home link if in a left navigation means that menu options move between pages, which can be more confusing.

Regards,
James

#13 cre8pc

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Posted 11 November 2003 - 01:31 PM

More on links -

Excerpt from Web Site Usability: A Designer's Guide

Links on the World Wide Web
http://www.uie.com/bookexpt.htm

I decided to look at some of my past and recent client sites to see which ones had a navigation link on the homepage that said "Home". Results are all over the place.

Yes, the home link appears in navigation and links to itself:
Autobytel
Raytheon
Tyco Electronics

Alternative:
Geico uses Amazon's technique of "Welcome" instead

No, there is no Home link on the home page:
Sempco
Empirix
All About Vision
ThincInteractive - a flash site. Home linking to home would mess up the flow

Home link in the universal footer, so it appears on the homepage: (To which Nielsen says "Fine":

Healthbridge

Home that doesn't go home, but goes to other pages instead:

http://www.spraylat.com/home.asp - A case of a misleading label.

Then I checked some big name sites:

Dell - no home link home
IBM - yes, home links home
Google - no
BBC - no
CBS news - yes

and usability company sites for homepage "Home" links:

www.usabilityfirst.com/index.txl - home is unlinked
www.webword.com/ - home is unlinked
www.stickyminds.com/index.asp - home is linked
www.useit.com/ - no home indicator on the homepage
www.universalusability.org/index.html - home is linked home
www.webstyleguide.com/index.html - home is in the footer, and linked
www.digital-web.com/ - home is unlinked
www.boxesandarrows.com/ - no home option, it's a blog so the requirement is different
www.humanfactors.com/home/default.asp - home is linked, in the footer

Results are all over the place but usability sites seem to be thinking twice about where to put it, if at all. Of all the results, the one that least annoys me is the footer home link. This is because visitors are more often relying on primary navigation up top or vertical nav on the sides, where most of the page identifiers are located. For long long home pages, with gobs of content or things to look at, the visitor may just forget, when they reach the bottom of the page, where they are. That "Home" link in the footer servers a considerate purpose then.

Obviously, home links that link home don't bother that many people or web designers.

Now we know.

Kim

#14 peter_d

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Posted 11 November 2003 - 02:10 PM

A button or link has to perform an expected function or it's considered a defect.


By changing the function of a link (on one page it's a navigation link, on the next it's a "you are here" pointer), you're also changing the expected function. At very least, you're introducing ambiguity.

Using the navigation structure as the "you are here" indicator works well, particularly on sites designed around the navigation scheme. On sites where the navigation structure is not writ large, I think it is less effective as a position indicator and some other element is better suited to this purpose.

This is the problem I have with statistical models of user behaviour. The figures cannot accomodate every design context. While it may be true that 57.9% of test users became confused on the test sites they were shown when the home link wasn't greyed out, they may not be at all confused on MY site when I do the same thing. Perhaps my users are more web savvy. Perhaps my design is less reliant on the user knowing their position in the navigation structure. Perhaps my stats show that 90% of visitors never want to see anything but the home page etc etc

That is why JN offers guidelines, not rules.

#15 bragadocchio

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Posted 11 November 2003 - 02:54 PM

I'm a little surprised by this outcry in favor of pages linking to themselves.

Then again, I don't like logos as links.

That is why JN offers guidelines, not rules.


Or at the very least, what JN offers should be considered guidelines and not rules.

#16 DianeV

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Posted 11 November 2003 - 03:00 PM

I see what you mean, Bill. On the other hand, we usually provide both a linked logo *and* a home page link.

#17 peter_d

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Posted 11 November 2003 - 03:00 PM

I like logos as home links and get annoyed when they aren't :D

Just goes to show, different people have different expectations. The usability "rules" obviously aren't universal.

#18 cre8pc

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Posted 11 November 2003 - 03:05 PM

Jeez Bill, I thought you'd never get here! :D

:multi:

Kim

#19 bragadocchio

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Posted 11 November 2003 - 03:29 PM

It seems a little uneven here, Kim. :P

Some interesting points, and a number of statements in different posts that conflict with each other.

A short list of some ideas here:

1. logos should be links
2. logos are usually joined by textual links home.
3. When people expect something to be a link it should be.
4. Pages shouldn't link to themselves.
5. Links on one page can be "you are here" indicators on another.
6. Navigation should remain consistent on every page.
7. The link shouldn't be the only indicator of which page you're upon.
8. Consistency is a standard requirement.

I'm not convinced that navigation has to remain consistent on each page. I'll opt for intelligent, informative, and useful before consistent. If the link appears altered in the navigation bar as one way to tell me where I'm at, I don't see a harm in it. I definitely don't see that alteration in the navigation panel being the cause of confusion.

#20 peter_d

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Posted 11 November 2003 - 03:54 PM

I think people are saying "it depends".

Ron brought up some good points earlier, namely that consistency in linking can be just as beneficial as linking that changes function.

Also, there's the cost factor to consider. It can create a lot of overhead changing the links depending on context. Will this extra cost be worth it?
The fact that 2% of visitors may become so confused they leave is a risk I'll take if the re-engineering changes I need to implement cost me more that those visitors are worth. This brings up a problem with usability services in general. They are often long on opinion and short on cost-benefit analysis. Show me how these changes will translate to the bottom line.

I run some pretty successful e-commerce sites and I've found many usability and design facts to be myths. The reality is that link redundancy works. Ugly design sells. Repitition is a must. The list goes on....

#21 cre8pc

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Posted 11 November 2003 - 03:55 PM

Whew! And all it cost me was a few bucks to bribe him to agree with me on something (just kidding Bill!)

I'm a user. I have pet peeves, as everyone does. I also see a lot of sites because I'm hired to test them. If I get lost, I record the reasons why. So far I can honestly say I haven't gotten lost because the functionality of a link changed in the navigation. What does get me confused is when the order of link labels is suddenly out of order, or navigation disappears altogether.

I don't trust "Home" links because I've been in too many situations where "Home" takes me off the site and onto the "Mother ship" site instead. This happens with schemes where the main domain splits off into keyword domains, and back again. Am I going to go "home" to a sub-domain or "home" to the main (foundation) site? When this kind of thing starts, as a user, I become leery of ALL "home links. There's no standard for how they're used.

I agree with Peter's point about the design being the captain of the ship and not rules. Every site has different business requirements and different target users.

Kim

#22 bragadocchio

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Posted 11 November 2003 - 04:13 PM

Ugly design sells.


I'll definitely be the last to argue against that, Peter. :P

It helps to talk about, think about, and debate usability guidelines. They aren't always appropriate, and can sometimes be dead wrong. But, they can help you avoid potential problems, too.

Having them out in front of you gives you a chance to think about how visitors to your site might succeed or fail to communicate and interact with you through your site.

I'm not sure that any site should just be designed with guidelines without also having even some rudimentary usability testing performed. Even if it's just your neighbor trying to perform a couple of tasks on your site while you watch over his or her shoulder.

#23 sanity

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Posted 11 November 2003 - 04:24 PM

the MOST important rule for all site navigation -- Consistency.

Totally agree.

Also, there's the cost factor to consider. It can create a lot of overhead changing the links depending on context. Will this extra cost be worth it?

Good point. I use included headers and footers in my designs which contain the top and bottom navigation. A benefit of this is if I need to change one link I only have to edit one file not hundreds which is obviously both a time and cost saver, which I can pass on to the client. The downside is you have a Home link on the homepage and navigation links are clickable even when you're on that page. I've never found it an issue - it's the navigation and it's consistent. Users have never found it an issue either - I'm often told how easy to navigate my sites are.

To let the user quickly know where they are I use a breadcrumb.

#24 sanity

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Posted 11 November 2003 - 04:25 PM

I run some pretty successful e-commerce sites and I've found many usability and design facts to be myths. The reality is that link redundancy works. Ugly design sells. Repitition is a must. The list goes on....

True but I'd argue that as ugly as your sites may be (no offence :) ) they're definitely well structured in terms of navigation.

Great thread by the way. :P

<edited for poor punctuation>

#25 DianeV

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Posted 11 November 2003 - 04:25 PM

Ditto what Sophie said. Never had a problem with this, and it's been years.

#26 DianeV

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Posted 11 November 2003 - 04:31 PM

I'm not entirely sure that "ugly sells". Might it be that lack of beauty is not an issue?

#27 peter_d

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Posted 11 November 2003 - 04:35 PM

Might it be that lack of beauty is not an issue?


Yah

Also, over-designed sites don't sell squat. There's a good reason why Amazon looks the way it does.

There exists this great middle ground between ugly and beautiful that works so well on the web.

IMHO :P

#28 sanity

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Posted 11 November 2003 - 04:37 PM

Also, over-designed sites don't sell squat.

Remember Boo.com?

#29 DianeV

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Posted 11 November 2003 - 04:39 PM

Okay. I'm not sure what you mean by "over-designed". I think it depends on the topic.

That said, some of the sites we designed five years ago are still doing extremely well for our clients.

#30 peter_d

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Posted 11 November 2003 - 04:39 PM

Remember Boo.com?


Especially boo.com :P

#31 DianeV

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Posted 11 November 2003 - 04:40 PM

Oh, Boo.com. As I recall, it was bleeding-edge, and ridiculously slow. Slow beyond any concept of slow. That's different.

#32 peter_d

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Posted 11 November 2003 - 04:40 PM

Okay. I'm not sure what you mean by "over-designed".


Agency stuff, mainly. Anything that has placed too much emphasis on brand. The bill is usually in excess of 100K and involves a lot of schmoozing :P

#33 James

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Posted 11 November 2003 - 04:41 PM

Out of interest, is anyone bothered by a footer 'Terms and Conditions' link that's active on the Terms and Conditions page? Or was the compromise the fact that the links are less used because they are at the bottom of the page?

I'm not a fan of footer 'homepage' links! I expect to be able to get to the homepage (of the current site) with a link on the left hand side of the page and/or from the main site logo. I don't expect to see it on the far right of a horizontal navigation menu.

In all honesty, there are far more important usability problems than the home page link.

#34 sanity

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Posted 11 November 2003 - 04:43 PM

Agency stuff, mainly. Anything that has placed too much emphasis on brand.

Which are also the hardest to optimise. "What do you mean I need copy on my homepage?" :roll:

#35 cre8pc

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Posted 11 November 2003 - 04:50 PM

Might it be that lack of beauty is not an issue?


Depends on the business requirements, site objectives, product, etc.

I test home and small business sites that aren't designed or built by web design companies (in addition to large companies who have resources available). I don't critique the "beauty". I look for desirability and how the design helps "sell" the product or portray the message. For home businesses, part of their charm comes from their honesty and special attention to customers. Many of them are quite good at showing this with their designs or content even though they lack an expert touch and do things like make all the content boldface and they forget cell padding.

There is also the issue of connectedness between different forms of marketing and brand. For example, I had a site for a famous auto insurance company that has a humorous mascot and runs funny TV commericals. I fully expected to see the mascot, and the lightness and humor on their website. It had none of that. In fact, it was hard to believe the website was for the company I saw advertised on TV. The site wasn't ugly but it was bland and lacked the sense of fun of their brand. Since my report, I noticed they redesigned the site, added color, reorganized it, and the first thing you see when the homepage loads is their famous mascot.

Usability testing isn't a bunch of hot air. I earn my keep sometimes :P

Kim

#36 Ron Carnell

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Posted 11 November 2003 - 05:08 PM

Kim said: A link is indicated by an underline or change in hover color or some sort of clue that it's a link. Removing the tell tale signs that it's a link tells me it's not a link, but is a "You Are Here" pointer. The label is the same, but the function signal has changed.


I think that's a generality, Kim (the "edit" and "profile" buttons, et al, here have no such visual clues, save for the browser-dependent tool tips), and is ONLY true because you are an experienced user. We have moved a long way from Nielsen's "all links are blue, all links are underlined" dictums. Design now signals links as much by their position on the page as by appearance. I have no problem with changing the appearance to ADD to the function, but still think throwing away the function is a mistake. A user WILL NOT CLICK on a same-page link unless they are already confused by the site's design. I don't think we should simply ignore their confusion by ignoring their click.

Peter said: That is why JN offers guidelines, not rules.


Google offers guidelines. At best, Nielsen offers advice and, at worse, unsupported opinions.

I hate to turn down yet another street, but while the Home Link violation Nielsen suggests as gospel is, in my opinion, the most dangerous on his list, it's really not even the most egregious. Number one is outdated (note the reference to search engines), number two suggests that newspaper columns should expand to fit our dining room table, and number three ignores the fact that nearly ten percent of all men are color blind. He usually comes up with at least two or three good points, but there isn't one single item in this list that I could call universally applicable.

Bill said: I like links to be brutally, blatantly obvious. A logo used as a link rarely is. It may be a standard that many people have adopted, but that doesn't mean that I need to like it.


A standard? It honestly took me forever to become accustomed to moving my mouse pointer over the logo, but then, I figured I was just a bit slow. I could really go either way and, with different designs, have. I might link the logo, I might not, but in either case, I will do the SAME THING on every page that has a logo.

Bill said:  I'm not convinced that navigation has to remain consistent on each page. I'll opt for intelligent, informative, and useful before consistent.


That's only because you're intelligent, Bill. :P

I guess I just don't see those attributes as being mutually exclusive. In the rare instance where consistency is going to result in something dumb, I'll be the first to throw that hobgoblin out the window (actually, I think even Emerson specifically characterized "foolish" consistency as the hobgoblin of little minds). Giving a visual clue to current location, whether by changing the appearance of the link or some other technique, qualifies as intelligent and informative. Allowing the link to remain a link, for the benefit of the less intelligent, doesn't in any way conflict with that.

Peter said:  The reality is that link redundancy works. Ugly design sells. Repitition is a must.


Amen, Brother! :)

Redundancy, repetition, and consistency are the cornerstones of usability, in my opinion. Given those, and as Diane suggests, we might even occasionally be able to get away with not-ugly. :)

Kim said:  I can honestly say I haven't gotten lost because the functionality of a link changed in the navigation. What does get me confused is when the order of link labels is suddenly out of order, or navigation disappears altogether.


But they follow exactly the same principles of consistency, Kim. The only real difference is your own level of experience. Those with considerably less experience (as are most of my visitors) get confused over a whole lot less than you do.

Kim said:  I don't trust "Home" links because I've been in too many situations where "Home" takes me off the site and onto the "Mother ship" site instead.


A valid concern, to be sure. Given the importance of anchor text these days, one might hope the labels we use will become more meaningful?

Sophie said: Great thread by the way.


Yeppers. :)

#37 cre8pc

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Posted 11 November 2003 - 05:12 PM

On header and footer navigation...

I worked out, through trial and error and feedback from SEO's that redundancy has its place.

For example, primary navigation in the header usually points to vitals and often "home" (even when on the homepage.)

There's support navigation offered in vertical format down the left or right side for things like categories.

The footer repeats key vitals like "Home" and Contact, and also feeds in technical requirements for privacy policies and terms and conditions (I call it the "cover your butt" navigation.) Some sites will repeat key hubs (sections). I do this on my own site.

The plus of repeat footer links is it helps search engines if done in text format. It offers options for special needs users with text readers and anyone with images turned off. It's also a nice aid for really long pages. No need to scroll up to go home or to key spots when the footer points there for you.

In using this scheme, the footer nearly always has links that link to themselves. I can't speak for other usability testers, but I ignore this in my tests. It's too complicated to turn on and off footer links and maintain changes to navigation so that the footer is always in total sync. I view the footer as a friendly assistant. It's there when you need it. It has no ego. It earns it keep not by being logical, but by being practical.

Case in point, is the site I'm testing now. It's primary navigation is a left side frame. There are so many links it scrolls on for awhile, so not even the entire navigation appears on the screen at once. Thank heavens for the redundant footer also placed on every individual page where I can view everything all at once.

James, on your question, I wouldn't call a linked Terms going to itself a defect. It breaks the "don't link a page to itself" theory, so it would be a personal judgement call. I tend to make allowances for footers.

Kim

#38 James

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Posted 11 November 2003 - 05:16 PM

James, on your question, I wouldn't call a linked Terms going to itself a defect. It breaks the "don't link a page to itself" theory, so it would be a personal judgement call. I tend to make allowances for footers.


Thanks Kim, that's what I thought.

Regards,
James

#39 Ron Carnell

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Posted 11 November 2003 - 05:19 PM

p.s. If that famous insurance company is in Orange County, Kim, they were almost a client of my company, too. I wooed them for over a year, circa 1996, but they eventually opted for an in-house software application. Fun people to work with, too! :P

#40 cre8pc

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Posted 11 November 2003 - 05:21 PM

Ron,

This is great stuff. I'm listening. Heaven forbid I get stuck in a black and white, rule dominated usability trap. We don't need more JN's. One is plenty :wink:

Kim



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