SIGIA-L Mail Archives: SIGIA-L: Site Map vs. Site Index
SIGIA-L: Site Map vs. Site Index
From: Karuna Venter (karloo_at_mediaone.net)
Date: Tue Jan 15 2002 - 02:18:47 EST
Jakob Nielsen's most recent AlertBox column was about "site maps":
In it he flat-out says "we strongly recommend having a clear link to the
site map on every page. Call the link Site Map. This label worked well in
our study, and is the one used by 63% of sites with site maps."
He makes no mention of the other oft-used term, "site index", which I have a
personal preference for. I like the word "map" for its implication of a
visual aid to navigation, but since the most effective designs for these
areas of a site are collections of well organized words, I think the word
"index" is more accurate here.
But do users (ummm or Interactors?) understand the word "index" to mean "a
place where you can go to get help finding what you're looking for"? Jakob
doesn't say, and I am wondering if anyone on the list has any hard data to
support "map" vs. "index", or vice versa.
Certainly the site index of which I speak bears little resemblance to its
print counterpart, the extremely helpful and totally (IMO) underestimated
book index. But does that make the term "index" any less accurate or useful
in the context of web navigation?
Here's my guess: probably this is a purely semantic distinction that doesn't
make much of a difference at the end of the day. If users (ummm,
customers?) can't find the link in the first place (as Jakob laments), and
in the second place may not use it even if they did find it, it would seem
probable that the people who might differentiate between a "map" and an
"index" would also understand that in the context of web navigation, the
terms are basically interchangeable.
But I'm open to being wrong, so if you have data and/or a strong opinion,
would you let me know?
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: Sun Nov 23 2003 - 22:54:58 EST