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When Links Change: How Additions and Deletions of Single Navigation Links Affect User Performance

Lauren F.V. Scharff and Philip Kortum

Journal of Usability Studies, Volume 5, Issue 1, Nov 2009, pp. 8 - 20

Abstract

This study examined user performance for Web sites in which a critical navigation link may have changed over the course of two visits. These second visits occurred either immediately after the first visit, one week later, or three weeks later. A shortcut link to the information was either consistently present, consistently absent, or varied between user visits. Results indicated when a pertinent navigation link was removed users searched through more pages and were less accurate in finding target information. When a link was added after the first visit, only about half of the users used it; however, even users who didnít use the added link still showed a performance improvement in their subsequent visit, suggesting that completing a single previous search on a site will lead to relatively long-term memories that can influence subsequent searches.

Practitionerís Take Away

The following were the main findings of the study:

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When Links Change: How Additions and Deletions of Single Navigation Links Affect User Performance