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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

Article Contents


The current data reflect Web site interaction behaviors that the users performed as they searched for the target information. It is possible that physiological data, such as eye movements, could yield further insight into the performance measures that we report here. It is possible that eye movements would reveal that there is significantly more confusion than the page counts might seem to indicate. For example, a user might exhaustively scan a Web page looking for the shortcut link, but then either abandon the task or take a single path from the page into other content. This means that the page counts might be under-representing the cost of a missing link. While this kind of behavior may be reflected in the search time measure, search times do not reveal where a user spent time looking when a change was made. Having access to eye scan data would allow a better understanding of the users’ reactions in the different conditions.

It may also be of interest to further examine the location of the link in relation to the performance decrements and enhancements that we observed. The link in this task was set to be in a location of moderately high importance (in the clearly identified navigation structure that was located near the top left of the page), but it did not occupy the top or bottom position of the list where higher saliency would be expected. Observing these kinds of super-saliency locations as well as those with much lower prominence, like the body or lower right areas, might yield important information regarding the generalizability of the data. It may also be important to investigate user behavior using a multi-site/multi-task paradigm and increase the number of visits to more than two, in order to provide a more complete understanding of site design on the memorability of the navigation.


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