November 7, 2002

Go back

I had an early preview of a site this past week so to add comments. It is odd to me that sites are still being built with the frame of reference that the user will come through the "font door". If you read your log files the users come in at every opening. It is about even odds that a new user to the site will come there from a search engine, an external link, or from another pointer (e-mail or article). The frame of reference should always try to provide some orientation to the user, such as breadcrumbs or some other link out to related or parent information.

The item that I found a little jarring was a "Go back to the previous page" and it was not a javascript, but a link to what the developer thought was a next level up page. Pure linear navigation is a practice that is no longer a practice, if it ever was. Somebody last night at the DC-IA book club asked whether we navigated or searched, as always it seems to depend. With sites like Amazon we mostly searched, while some smaller sites we would click around. It seemed the greater volume of information lead to a greater instance of searching.

We did not talk about this for long, but it has been resonating all day. One of the things that Amazon does extremely well is end-search navigation. Most folks seem to search Amazon to find a particular item, but then Amazon's navigation and related offerings that could attract the user to the item, which they were searching for or to a similar item. The search result pages offer links to narrow the results or to ensure the user is looking for the musician Paul Young or author Paul Young. A user arriving at an Amazon book page would have all the options and information they needed to find related information and where they are in the Amazon site.



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