SIGIA-L Mail Archives: RE: SIGIA-L: Tree or Explorer views for
RE: SIGIA-L: Tree or Explorer views for navigation to information
From: Hilker, Cindy (cindy.hilker_at_dealtrack.com)
Date: Fri Feb 01 2002 - 13:06:19 EST
We recently did a usability study on our transaction management product
where we tested a folder-style navigation aginst a tab-style navigation.
Our results clearly showed that users performed better on the tab-style
navigation. Users also expressed negative comments about the folder-style
navigation and said they preferred the tab-style.
This was a small, somewhat informal study (along the lines of Steve Krug's
"Usability testing on 10 cents a day" from "Don't Make Me Think"). We only
had 6 subjects.
If you think the test results report would be useful to you, let me know and
I will forward a copy.
-- Cindy Hilker
Cynthia M. Hilker
User Experience Architect
From: Julie Francis [mailto:juliefrancis_at_earthlink.net]
Sent: Thursday, January 31, 2002 8:25 PM
Subject: SIGIA-L: Tree or Explorer views for navigation to information
I'm working with a client who has designed a web-based application for
supply chain visibility. My client implemented a "tree" or "explorer" view
as part of their navigation pathway to key information. By "tree" or
"explorer" view I mean a file directory-type view with expanding folders.
The end of the explorer view is a specific piece of information, like a
style of men's shirts, a container on a container ship, or a purchase order
number. This information is often several layers deep within the file
High level use cases:
Basically, end-users utilize this visibility tool to track and trace
movement of goods through the supply chain. As an example, an end-user
might need to know where a particular shipment is in the supply chain, when
the shipment is expected to arrive at their distribution center, why a
shipment is delayed, etc. They could use the explorer or tree view in the
following type of scenario: I know a shipping customs is held in customs,
and I need to know what Purchase Orders and Product Styles are impacted so I
can notify the buyer that part of their inventory will be late. I search by
container and find the specifics of the late container. I go to the tree
view, and open the first folder which tells me all the cartons loaded on the
container. I open the carton view and I learn which styles are loaded in
that box. I have to repeat this for every carton on the container (and
those containers hold lots of cartons). If more information about the the
use cases would be helpful, I'm happy to provide it, but I don't want to
torture everyone with descriptions of the complex world of logistics
In recent Usability testing, we observed confusion and outright negative
reactions to this approach to navigation to key information. A quote from a
fairly sophisticated computer user:
"Ugh! [Tone of disgust]. I don't know what this is. It is giving me the
folder down. I hate that. Why? Why do you have this? I don't know what to
do with this.... I don't get this. I don't get why you are doing this. It
too hard! I'm sorry. It is too hard for me. I'd have to have a class to
do this. Blech!"
We're very concerned about this approach to navigating, and have support
from much of management to address it. However, I've been asked to obtain
additional information on the known usability of tree or explorer views.
Any help, anecdotes, references to reports, references to online resources
would be appreciated.
Usability and User Experience Consulting
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