SIGIA-L Mail Archives: Re: SIGIA-L: Upside Down L
Re: SIGIA-L: Upside Down L
From: Paola Kathuria (paola_at_limitless.co.uk)
Date: Wed Nov 08 2000 - 13:27:18 EST
Peter Merholz wrote:
> User tests showed us that people
> pretty much ignore what's in the "L" part of the page until the
> last possible moment, if then.
By the "last possible moment", do you mean just before they
leave the page? If so, why's that a surprise or even a bad
thing? Did you subsequently move navigation elsewhere so
that it's the first thing people look at when they arrive
on a page?
Jared Spool observations found that people focus on a page's
content and not on navigation when they first arrived on a page.
Jakob Nielsen quotes eye-tracking research confirming this.
That said, I don't think that it's either unexpected behaviour
or a problem and I don't think that such results imply that
conventional navigation is irrelevant to visitors and therefore
need to be redesigned.
Surely people click on a link because they expect specific
content which they want to read - not because they want to
admire the navigation.
Besides setting the page context, I think that navigation
panels (modules, whatever) are only relevant to visitors once
they want to go elsewhere. A left nav panel may be "dead to
the eye" but I'm sure that visitors are aware that the
navigation area is there and what it's for and that they will
be able to attend to it once relevant in getting to another
(I would have thought that the only time the navigation area
becomes as important as the content is when a visitor first
arrives on a site by way an inner page via a search engine - I
have assumed that, in this situation, the navigation area conveys
a site overview and puts the current page in context.)
Or, have I misunderstood your message and you're saying that
visitors have become helpless and don't know how to navigate
when the navigation panels are placed in conventional places?
As for the specific issue of left- or right panels, I am
beginning to favour putting the main content on the left and
any vertical navigation on the right. When developing
alternative page structures for the OED Online tour, we all
agreed that having the tour index on the left just got in the
way of the tour content.
By having the tour index on the right, I felt that people would
soon realise it was there, would be able to easily ignore it
when reading the tour but that they would know where and what
it was when they wanted to jump to another tour stop.
I wasn't able to do formal user testing but the tour logs showed
that people did use the tour index to jump around (although
generally in a forward direction), normally after a few linear
stops. The tour's at http://www.oed.com/public/tour/ (the
left-hand sites links are removed once you start the tour).
Robert Dornbush wrote:
> I like global nav at the top (horizontally), local main category nav
> underneath that (also horizontally)
I'd prefer to do this, because of display issues and it not
interfering with the main content but I haven't seen an
implementation that allows for, say, 10 horizontal local links
that'll also work on a 640x480 screen.
> then truly local [usually sub-sub category navigation] on the left
> hand side -allowing for navigation to anywhere from anywhere.
I've now just started to use right-hand modules (at the top
and bottom of the content) to list the links on the page.
> I don't single-page view nav (such as legal, privacy, and contact
> us) staring at me from every header, so I prefer to relegate these
> items to a footer nav and / or content blurb / button nav when
> elevating their weight / importance is appropriate.
I eventually realised that the single-page links tend to be
links about the site itself (site contents, what's new on the
site, legal, link to us). I now consciously group site-related
However, I realised that the "contact us" link, although to
another single page, shouldn't be a low-key link for those sites
whose main purpose is to initiate a dialogue with new and
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: Sun Nov 23 2003 - 22:54:26 EST