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Designing Web Navigation by James Kalbach

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WEB BROWSING BEHAVIOR

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[22] 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).

Typical hub and spoke style of navigating

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,[23] 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:

  • Support revisitation

  • Design pages to load quickly

  • Shorten navigation paths

  • Minimize transient pages

The revisitation ...

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