We are all creatures of habit. Even in our web browsing, we rely on a limited number of pages within a site. In a 1995 study of web browsing behavior, researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology clearly showed a recurring pattern of users frequently returning to a given page or pages as a sort of home base, resulting in a hub and spoke style of navigation through a web space (Figure 2-4).
Figure 2-4. Typical hub and spoke style of navigating
More recent studies confirm this comfort in familiarity: Andy Cockburn and Bruce McKenzie, researchers at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand, examined the surfing behavior of many web users, looking at the duration of each page visit, how often people visited a page, the growth and content of bookmark collections, and many other factors. Previously, revisitation—navigating to a previously visited page—accounted for 58 to 61 percent of all page visits. In 2000, page revisitation was even more prevalent: 81 percent of page visits calculated across all users.
The results also show that browsing is rapid. People often visit several pages in a very short period of time. They move very quickly on the Web, with pages displayed for only a few seconds. This research generated a simple set of guidelines:
Design pages to load quickly
Shorten navigation paths
Minimize transient pages
The revisitation ...