Reduce Clutter and Avoid Redundancy

Don't provide multiple navigation areas for the same types of links. Categories that are duplicated or indistinguishable complicate the interface, making users work hard to create order. People must expend effort to figure out the difference between links with similar names. And overemphasizing links by sprinkling the same ones all over the page actually decreases the likelihood that viewers will see them. In fact, the fewer objects on the page, the more likely people will notice them. With many competing elements, all items lose prominence.

It's best to clearly feature something in one place. Reducing redundancy minimizes clutter, making it easier for people to find information.

Don't Be Duped by Duplicates

Clients often tell us that they would like to retain redundant links on their homepage or elsewhere on the site because each of the links attracts substantial traffic. Sometimes they even quote statistics showing that traffic to a page increased when the links were duplicated.

While such statistics may sound compelling, they are often deceiving. Yes, it's true that each link gets clicks, but that doesn't mean that users wouldn't have found the destination if there had been only one link. Say the same links are at the top and bottom of a page. Users often consider the link at the top but decide to check out the rest of the page before they click it. Reaching the bottom of the page, they may click the second link instead, but if it wasn't there, they would have scrolled back up and clicked at the top.

It's also true that duplicating a link can increase overall traffic to a destination, but that's simply because you are promoting that item more heavily than others and giving it more screen space. Making a link bigger or placing it more prominently on the page can yield the same result without creating confusion. Furthermore, any time you promote one item, the net result is less traffic to other items on the page. Users only have so much attention to give you, so when you grab more of it for one link, you lose it for the others.

In the end, you usually lose more than you gain by using duplicate links. Even if you increase traffic to a specific page, you may lose return traffic to the site from users who were confused and couldn't find what they wanted.

(Facing page, top) Duplicate links unnecessarily complicate the United States Postal Service site. The options in the middle of the page are identical to the links in the blue area at the top.

(Facing page, bottom) The City of San Diego repeats tabs at the top that are already in the main content area of the page. It would be better to show the navigation in one obvious place and reserve the remaining area for other relevant content or leave it as white space.

The Escalade Sports Web site offers redundant navigational methods: the text list method and a graphical method (with circular dial). Most of our users opted for the text method because it is easier to scan. As a last resort, others used the graphic but were disappointed to discover that both methods led to the same information. What a waste of time!

Prioritizing Web Usability
Prioritizing Web Usability
ISBN: 0321350316
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2006
Pages: 107

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