Business Case: Navigable websites

An example of a well-ordered information space with a clear hierarchy and taxonomy. A hierarchical website layout ( 1999 BaBar web)

A navigable website is designed with a clear subject hierarchy that governs the underlying taxonomic relationships and the linkages (cross-references) between web pages.

If the site is well designed then it is easy for a user to drill down from general topics to specific content; and to jump between related concepts via hyperlinks.

Why worry about navigability?

Time and money is lost when a user fails to find what he or she is looking for on a website or intranet. Potential customers can be lost and dependent employees can become frustrated, as a result of poor navigability.

The need for automatic navigability measurements

As the content on a website expands, and the number of links between its web pages increases, the overall structure can become chaotic and unmanageable, and important information can become more and more difficult to find - see BaBar case study. At some point a website improvement project becomes mandatory.

Consultations with stakeholders, through focus groups and user surveys, produce valuable, qualitative data to guide a website redesign, but objective, quantitative data can only be gleaned from automated methodologies such as those employed by Surfability - see the NaviGauge product page.

"Much can be learned from the design of directory services like Yahoo and LookSmart since they expend more usability efforts than any intranet project, but it is ultimately necessary to construct the actual topic hierarchy locally since it has to reflect the specific content and concerns of the intranet."

Jakob Nielsen, Alertbox, April 4, 1999

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