Site Map - How important is it as a link?

1 Oct 2008 - 3:01am
5 years ago
43 replies
2382 reads
Sachin Ghodke
2008

Site Map: I have been wondering how important the link "Site Map" is which I
am planning to do away with on a corporate website?
What I am looking at is to have those few sections and their sub-links
upfront at the bottom of the page for all the subsequent pages besides the
home page. Is this going to be too much information for the user to handle?

I need all the advice you can give regarding this.

Thank you.

--
Sachin Ghodke

Comments

1 Oct 2008 - 4:31am
sudhindra
2004

<What I am looking at is to have those few sections and their sub-links
upfront at the bottom of the page for all the subsequent pages besides the
home page.>

This limits the scalability of the links when there may be more coming in.
And it is not "obvious" for a user to look for the links of other sections
within a page he is in. And having it at the bottom further reduces the
visibility and looks like a clutter of links when users stumble upon it.

A Site map is a harmless additional page which consolidates the site
sections and subsections in the form of links in a single page and it is a
readily available fall-back option.

What is your reason to avoid the Site Map page?

Sudhindra V.

On Wed, Oct 1, 2008 at 1:31 PM, Sachin <sachyn.ghodke at gmail.com> wrote:

> Site Map: I have been wondering how important the link "Site Map" is which
> I
> am planning to do away with on a corporate website?
> What I am looking at is to have those few sections and their sub-links
> upfront at the bottom of the page for all the subsequent pages besides the
> home page. Is this going to be too much information for the user to handle?
>
> I need all the advice you can give regarding this.
>
> Thank you.
>
> --
> Sachin Ghodke
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
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>

1 Oct 2008 - 4:25am
Viktor Reiter
2008

I'm asking myself how important is a Site Map at all? I never search
for it on a site not to mention to use it.

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Posted from the new ixda.org
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1 Oct 2008 - 4:46am
Kordian Piotr Klecha
2008

In my opinion - when your site's architecture and navigation are
brilliant, you don't need to prepare site map.

You don't need even if they're just OK.

BUT in some cases, when I just HAD TO find specific document inside
of complicated site - site maps was the last "life belt" for me. So
- unless you are completly sure that your site will not grow fast in
it's lifecycle - making even automatic site map should be proper
decision.

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Posted from the new ixda.org
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1 Oct 2008 - 5:18am
John Gibbard
2008

Sitemaps don't need to live on separate pages and they don't just
serve lost users.

Sitemaps can live comfortably at the foot of the page [1],[2],[3],[4]
and are particularly powerful from an SEO perspective [5]. It's there
when you need it, and it's out of the way when you don't.

[1] http://www.norwichunion.com
[2] http://www.last.fm
[3] http://www.plus.net (best example)
[4]
http://www.welie.com/patterns/showPattern.php?patternID=sitemap-footer
[5] http://snipurl.com/3zlpi

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Posted from the new ixda.org
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1 Oct 2008 - 5:31am
sudhindra
2004

Of course, its good to have important links at the bottom of the page. But
the fact that it is not obvious means when a user is lost, he has no way to
know where to look for information, unless he notices it at the bottom of
the page. Secondly, links as few as 4 or 5 per section is good to have at
the bottom but for larger sites that have many sections and many more sub
sections within each, it may not be a great idea. And when there are deeper
levels of navigation within the secondary navigation, it loses it scability
and is a challenge to present well.
So IMHO - Flaunt the most important subsections under each section header at
the bottom of the page. Have a good sitemap that consolidates all
subsections and sub-sub sections if any, in a different, single page.

On Wed, Oct 1, 2008 at 3:48 PM, John Gibbard
<john at smorgasbord-design.co.uk>wrote:

> Sitemaps don't need to live on separate pages and they don't just
> serve lost users.
>
> Sitemaps can live comfortably at the foot of the page [1],[2],[3],[4]
> and are particularly powerful from an SEO perspective [5]. It's there
> when you need it, and it's out of the way when you don't.
>
> [1] http://www.norwichunion.com
> [2] http://www.last.fm
> [3] http://www.plus.net (best example)
> [4]
> http://www.welie.com/patterns/showPattern.php?patternID=sitemap-footer
> [5] http://snipurl.com/3zlpi
>
>
> . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
> Posted from the new ixda.org
> http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=33722
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
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>

1 Oct 2008 - 5:41am
John Gibbard
2008

Three things -

1. I believe that the 'lost user' will have scrolled to the bottom
of the page and, if executed as well as the Plusnet example ([3] in
my previous post), they will find the sitemap.
2. Sitemaps in the footer are a safety net - not a principle
navigation tool
3. Footer sitemaps are unlikely to be comprehensive for
deep/expansive sites and, in these cases, will be served well by by
focussing on the higher-level categories. I'm not sure there is any
use for a exhaustive sitemap on information rich sites - no-one wants
to look at the entire catalogue of the Library of Congress on a single
page, this is where search applies. Most of the sites I cited below
have a large number of pages and their sitemaps provide great
fall-back signage to the majority of content.

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Posted from the new ixda.org
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1 Oct 2008 - 6:07am
Sachin Ghodke
2008

Looking at the current conversation here i am lead to believe that for
a site which is not so heavily laden with links its appropriate to
have it at the bottom and below the fold. But then does it really
matter to have a site map for small sites with few links? However,
big sites, which have immense data to display having sub and sub-sub
links, I think the site map on a separate page would work because it
does help for two reasons - to navigate if you are lost or looking
for something specific and second purely for SEO.

The site map on the separate page or the home page below the fold
should be included for SEO purpose for complex or simple sites. But
if you really can do without a site map then it would be for the
simple (small) sites where the navigation won't have an user lost.

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Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=33722

1 Oct 2008 - 7:45am
Anonymous

Sachin,
I have a strong leaning regarding my position on sitemaps which I will not
get into.
My focus rather will be on the placement of your sections.
'Upfront' and 'bottom of the page' seem to be contradictory to me.
Also, when you say 'bottom of the page', is it possible that this solution
may be below the page break on certain pages?

What I am looking at is to have those few sections and their sub-links
upfront at the bottom of the page for all the subsequent pages besides the
home page.

1 Oct 2008 - 8:45am
Jared M. Spool
2003

On Oct 1, 2008, at 4:01 AM, Sachin wrote:

> Site Map: I have been wondering how important the link "Site Map" is
> which I
> am planning to do away with on a corporate website?
> What I am looking at is to have those few sections and their sub-links
> upfront at the bottom of the page for all the subsequent pages
> besides the
> home page. Is this going to be too much information for the user to
> handle?

Hi Sachin,

Earlier this year, I wrote about what you're trying to do here:
The Site Map: An Information Architecture Cop-Out
http://www.uie.com/articles/Sitemap/

If users are going to your site map, then there's likely to be
something seriously wrong with the information architecture of your
site. We tell clients that if they find a substantial number are going
to the site map from their home page to try an experiment and populate
their home page with the site map content. They typically see both a
reduction in the site map visits and an increase in the user
satisfaction. It sounds like that's the direction you're heading.

Your plan to put all the links on the home page is fine. The problem
with links isn't the quantity. It's the "scent". Users need a clear
way to tell what each link does and how it's different from the other
links. Make the scent clear by providing great trigger words, and
you'll be fine.

Testing is essential. Wouldn't try this without it.

Resources on scent:
Designing for the Scent of Information (costs $)
http://www.uie.com/reports/scent_of_information/

Lifestyles of Link-Rich Home Pages
http://www.uie.com/articles/linkrich_home_pages/

The Right Trigger Words
http://www.uie.com/articles/trigger_words/

Hope that helps,

Jared

Jared M. Spool
User Interface Engineering
510 Turnpike St., Suite 102, North Andover, MA 01845
e: jspool at uie.com p: +1 978 327 5561
http://uie.com Blog: http://uie.com/brainsparks

1 Oct 2008 - 9:32am
achong
2006

Aside from it being a navigation crutch. I've been told by our SEO
manager that it's useful for spiders to index so that could be a
reason to include it.

--
Adrian Chong
www.adrianchong.com/blog

1 Oct 2008 - 9:50am
Jared M. Spool
2003

On Oct 1, 2008, at 10:32 AM, Adrian Chong wrote:

> Aside from it being a navigation crutch. I've been told by our SEO
> manager that it's useful for spiders to index so that could be a
> reason to include it.

I hear that a lot.

This is one of the great myths of SEO.

What the SEO manager is trying to say is that the spiders want to
crawl through the links.

The spiders don't care if those links are on a page labeled "Site Map"
or "Home Page" or "A page with every link that only spiders care about"

So, if the page is important, link to it from someplace that the
spiders go and your SEO manager will be happy.

Jared

Jared M. Spool
User Interface Engineering
510 Turnpike St., Suite 102, North Andover, MA 01845
e: jspool at uie.com p: +1 978 327 5561
http://uie.com Blog: http://uie.com/brainsparks

1 Oct 2008 - 1:31pm
Sachin Ghodke
2008

Jared,
Most of your inputs on Site map and SEO are well taken. I must say a
good insight and a perspective to what i thought was always right. It
is customary to put in "Site Map" as a link where I work but I feel
its only essential if ever required.

And as you have said, "If users are going to your site map, then
there's likely to be something seriously wrong with the information
architecture of your site." summarizes the perspective the link
"SiteMap" should really be looked at.

There is this new "trend" of getting the site map below the fold by
listing all the links in the web site but to me i see no point of
doing this if the site as perfect navigation.

I agree with you about the 'scent' part and it has indeed been my
endeavor to instill in my peers this thought but not many would want
to listen. That is why I had earlier a discussion about "search"
(http://www.ixda.org/discuss.php?post=33254#33254) and the correct
terminology or icon representation that could be used because I was
searching for the same perspective amongst our community.

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Posted from the new ixda.org
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1 Oct 2008 - 3:28pm
Jared M. Spool
2003

On Oct 1, 2008, at 11:31 AM, Sachin Ghodke wrote:

> There is this new "trend" of getting the site map below the fold by
> listing all the links in the web site but to me i see no point of
> doing this if the site as perfect navigation.

Exactly right.

There's a general perception that users *want* global navigation, but
if you spend any time watching folks on sites, you quickly realize
they are *only* interested in local navigation -- how do I get from
*here* to *where I want to be*?

So, any effort to add global nav to a page is a senseless waste of
pixels.

That's my opinion.

Jared

1 Oct 2008 - 5:58pm
Jared M. Spool
2003

On Oct 1, 2008, at 4:35 PM, Danna Hudson wrote:

>>> There is this new "trend" of getting the site map below the fold by
>>> listing all the links in the web site but to me i see no point of
>>> doing this if the site as perfect navigation.
>
> The main reason I as an IxD add navigation as text links in the
> footer is
> because Search Engine bots eat the links up and it helps with
> cataloging the
> website and SEO.
>
> http://www.dailyseoblog.com/2007/06/importance-of-footer-text-in-seo/

There's a lot of misinformation floating around the SEO space on how
the bots actually work.

This is likely to fall into that category.

Don't believe everything you read.

Jared

Jared M. Spool
User Interface Engineering
510 Turnpike St., Suite 102, North Andover, MA 01845
e: jspool at uie.com p: +1 978 327 5561
http://uie.com Blog: http://uie.com/brainsparks

1 Oct 2008 - 8:06pm
Paul Eisen
2007

> There's a general perception that users *want* global navigation, but
> if you spend any time watching folks on sites, you quickly realize
> they are *only* interested in local navigation -- how do I get from
> *here* to *where I want to be*?

> So, any effort to add global nav to a page is a senseless waste of
pixels.

Jared, typically when I read your postings, I find myself nodding my head a lot in agreement. Not so this time. Am I misunderstanding what you mean by global nav? Research conducted at a now-defunct company I worked for in the dot com days (Immersant) showed many users commenting positively on seeing the full extent of the navigation - both global and local. Users appreciated gaining a sense of the scope from the global navigation, and, if it's comprehensive, engenders trust. I wonder if that's changed in the past 8 years. But even if it has, IMO the existence of the global nav still plays a critical role in enabling the user to navigate from "here" to "where I want to be" reliably and with confidence.

Paul Eisen
Principal User Experience Architect
tandemseven

1 Oct 2008 - 3:35pm
Danna Hudson
2005

>> There is this new "trend" of getting the site map below the fold by
>> listing all the links in the web site but to me i see no point of
>> doing this if the site as perfect navigation.

The main reason I as an IxD add navigation as text links in the footer is
because Search Engine bots eat the links up and it helps with cataloging the
website and SEO.

http://www.dailyseoblog.com/2007/06/importance-of-footer-text-in-seo/

On 10/1/08 1:28 PM, "Jared Spool" <jspool at uie.com> wrote:

>
> On Oct 1, 2008, at 11:31 AM, Sachin Ghodke wrote:
>
>> There is this new "trend" of getting the site map below the fold by
>> listing all the links in the web site but to me i see no point of
>> doing this if the site as perfect navigation.
>
> Exactly right.
>
> There's a general perception that users *want* global navigation, but
> if you spend any time watching folks on sites, you quickly realize
> they are *only* interested in local navigation -- how do I get from
> *here* to *where I want to be*?
>
> So, any effort to add global nav to a page is a senseless waste of
> pixels.
>
> That's my opinion.
>
> Jared
>
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help

1 Oct 2008 - 8:51pm
Jared M. Spool
2003

On Oct 1, 2008, at 9:06 PM, Paul Eisen wrote:

>> There's a general perception that users *want* global navigation, but
>> if you spend any time watching folks on sites, you quickly realize
>> they are *only* interested in local navigation -- how do I get from
>> *here* to *where I want to be*?
>
>> So, any effort to add global nav to a page is a senseless waste of
> pixels.
>
> Jared, typically when I read your postings, I find myself nodding my
> head a lot in agreement. Not so this time. Am I misunderstanding
> what you mean by global nav? Research conducted at a now-defunct
> company I worked for in the dot com days (Immersant) showed many
> users commenting positively on seeing the full extent of the
> navigation - both global and local. Users appreciated gaining a
> sense of the scope from the global navigation, and, if it's
> comprehensive, engenders trust. I wonder if that's changed in the
> past 8 years. But even if it has, IMO the existence of the global
> nav still plays a critical role in enabling the user to navigate
> from "here" to "where I want to be" reliably and with confidence.

I know. People think I'm nuts about this. If you join that crowd,
you'll be in the majority. Take comfort in the numbers.

Here's the logic:

The Big Assertion: Users are looking for something specific on the site.

If the user is on the page that has their specific target, then they
don't need *any* navigation (either local or global).

If the page they're on doesn't have the target content, then they need
to find scent (a link with good trigger words) to that content.

If good, clear local navigation gets them to target content, then they
don't need any global navigation.

It's only when the local navigation fails that global navigation comes
into play. If the global navigation has great scent, then the user
will be ok. But, global navigation is usually pretty general
("Products", "Solutions"), so it's only a process of elimination if it
works at all.

If users are telling you that they really like your global nav, it's
probably because your local nav is really poor. If your local nav was
great, then the users wouldn't pay any attention to the global nav.

(Of course, if users are going to completely scentless elements, such
as Search or the Site Map, it's probably because the scent is
practically non-existent for their target content.)

I don't know how you measured that "users appreciated gaining a sense
of the scope from the global navigation", but when users are actually
*using* a site, the #1 way to engender trust is to get them to their
target content quickly (and make sure that content satiates their
needs).

Again, I'm in a minority with this opinion. I've only come to it from
watching a couple of thousand people work with sites. There are
millions who I haven't watched, so, I'm probably missing a big piece
of the data. :)

Jared

Jared M. Spool
User Interface Engineering
510 Turnpike St., Suite 102, North Andover, MA 01845
e: jspool at uie.com p: +1 978 327 5561
http://uie.com Blog: http://uie.com/brainsparks

1 Oct 2008 - 11:18pm
Jared M. Spool
2003

On Oct 1, 2008, at 10:34 PM, luke ryerson wrote:

> What 'SCENT' are you talking about? I didn't know that online links
> had a 'Scent'.

http://is.gd/3pwN

Jared

2 Oct 2008 - 12:05am
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

On Oct 1, 2008, at 6:51 PM, Jared Spool wrote:

> Again, I'm in a minority with this opinion. I've only come to it
> from watching a couple of thousand people work with sites. There are
> millions who I haven't watched, so, I'm probably missing a big piece
> of the data. :)

I share your opinion on this as well. One way to think about it to
make it more real:

When you're at a corner -- at street level -- trying to get somewhere,
you only care about the signs at that specific corner to get you to
where you need to go next. Sure... you may be good with maps and all,
but generally speaking, large detailed maps are only as good as the
specific markings they provide you for specific directions on where
you to go. While the larger map gives you a broad context and can be
helpful for people with good spatial skills, most of the time all you
really care about about are small portions of the map and if the
street signs on the corner you are currently at are in plain sight and
marked well and match the map.

Another example? Hop on an airplane and go to some random airport
you've never been to, then get yourself to the baggage claim. If
you're being honest while you observe yourself doing this little
exercise, you'll notice that all you really care about are the signs
that point you to the baggage claim. Everything else is may be
moderately interesting, including the airport maps that give you a
large lay of the land... but mostly, it's all noise, especially if
you're trying to make international connecting flights and are pressed
for time.

Further, understanding this is how many who trained in web site design
can the make the leaps needed to do interface design for more
traditional desktop or RIA type of applications. I need to rewrite it
one of these days, but I had written about the Myth of Navigation a
few years back that tries to explain this concept, albeit poorly.

There's no such thing as "navigation" in software or on the web. It
was originally a metaphor, and has long outlived its usefulness. As a
metaphor, it was created in an attempt to communicate loading
different pages from one or more servers. But don't confuse the
original metaphor as being some inherent truth about what is happening
at the software level. All there is are things you click on that do
things you need, which may include changing the screen context to show
a new set of items to browse or choosing a pencil tool to draw a line.

--
Andrei Herasimchuk

Principal, Involution Studios
innovating the digital world

e. andrei at involutionstudios.com
c. +1 408 306 6422

1 Oct 2008 - 9:34pm
Luke Ryerson
2008

What are you talking about? How can you not measure how a user appreciates
gaining a sense of the scope from a global nav?"

This makes perfect sense.

What 'SCENT' are you talking about? I didn't know that online links had
a 'Scent'.

(Your 'minority' comment is a 'fail-safe' for your reputation.)

I don't know how you measured that "users appreciated gaining a sense of the
scope from the global navigation",
Please explain.

On Wed, Oct 1, 2008 at 9:51 PM, Jared Spool <jspool at uie.com> wrote:

>
> On Oct 1, 2008, at 9:06 PM, Paul Eisen wrote:
>
> There's a general perception that users *want* global navigation, but
>>> if you spend any time watching folks on sites, you quickly realize
>>> they are *only* interested in local navigation -- how do I get from
>>> *here* to *where I want to be*?
>>>
>>
>> So, any effort to add global nav to a page is a senseless waste of
>>>
>> pixels.
>> I don't know how you measured that "users appreciated gaining a sense of
>> the scope from the global navigation", but when users are actually *using* a
>> site, the #1 way to engender trust is to get them to their target content
>> quickly (and make sure that content satiates their needs).
>>
>> Jared
>>
>> Jared M. Spool
>> User Interface Engineering
>> 510 Turnpike St., Suite 102, North Andover, MA 01845
>> e: jspool at uie.com p: +1 978 327 5561
>> http://uie.com Blog: http://uie.com/brainsparks
>
>

2 Oct 2008 - 12:31am
Kontra
2007

> Another example? Hop on an airplane and go to some random airport you've
> never been to, then get yourself to the baggage claim. If you're being
> honest while you observe yourself doing this little exercise, you'll notice
> that all you really care about are the signs that point you to the baggage
> claim. Everything else is may be moderately interesting, including the
> airport maps that give you a large lay of the land...

All this depends, unfortunately, on the definition of what a "site map" is.

In 5 mins one can google to find 5 different definitions and examples of the
general notion. Is it an inventory of the entirety of a site? Is it by page?
By categories? Is it just the main depts? Is it based on functional,
actionable, conceptual, architectural or organizational categories? Is it a
mirror of the site's physical file structure? And so on. Of course, if the
"site" is a dynamically generated app that is highly contextualized or
personalized, what happens to the very notion of a site *map*?

If the designer is smart, there is sufficient traffic volume and analytics
software is available, one can slice and dice the logs to see statistically
meaningful cues as to where users go, in what contexts, from what referring
pages to what destinations, etc., to arrive at useful predictive
recommendations. IOW, if you get out of this arrival gate, in this airport,
from this departure destination, at this hour of the day, given current
congestion, loading/unloading patterns, etc. what are the top five
directional signs that can be generated? Transfer, baggage, exit, restrooms,
etc. This way, it's not difficult to knock out 90% of the "navigational"
clutter and still provide a sense of useful possibilities. Just because a
designer can create and "see" the architectural completeness (and
complexity) of a site (at all times) doesn't mean the user should.

--
Kontra
http://counternotions.com

2 Oct 2008 - 4:18am
John Gibbard
2008

Hmm, my only further addition to this would be to say what *harm* does
it do to have both a well-thought out primary nav and a strong global
footer? It's a safety net after all and if it adds any sense of
'completeness' what's a few pixels at the bottom of the page?

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
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2 Oct 2008 - 4:27am
Itamar Medeiros
2006

In his article for Boxes and Arrows entitled "Visible Narratives:
Understanding Visual Organization"
(http://www.boxesandarrows.com/view/visible_narratives_understanding_visual_organization),
Luke Wroblewski
(http://www.boxesandarrows.com/person/66-lukewroblewski) came up with
an interesting distinction for site-maps, classifying it as part of a
group he calls "site-wide utilities", which includes:

-Shopping Carts;
-Site-map;
-Search (I've included this one!)

I think is just brilliant, in a sense that such links don't belong
to the "main" information architecture of a application... or we
could say they work "across" the information architecture.

...
{ Itamar Medeiros } Information Designer
designing clear, understandable communication by
caring to structure, context, and presentation
of data and information

mobile ::: 86 13671503252
website ::: http://designative.info/
aim ::: itamarlmedeiros
skype ::: designative

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
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2 Oct 2008 - 6:42am
Paul Eisen
2007

Jared said,

> The Big Assertion: Users are looking for something specific on the site.

>If the user is on the page that has their specific target, then they
> don't need *any* navigation (either local or global).
> If the page they're on doesn't have the target content, then they need
> to find scent (a link with good trigger words) to that content.
> If good, clear local navigation gets them to target content, then they
> don't need any global navigation.

Yes, this makes sense. And as a philosophy it provides good incentive to anticipate what they users could possibly be looking for, so the designer can provide those options locally. However, often there are just too many things the user might want to do, and in my experience it's usually not possible to anticipate them all. The designer could set a target of attempting to satisfy x% of the navigation needs with local nav (x = 90%? 95% 99%). But for those fringe needs, the global nav does provide the backbone to enable the user to explore with confidence. Exploring with confidence also offers the advantage of serving up options that were not originally considered or "needed" by the user, but may offer opportunities for value exchange. So the global nav may help squeeze a little extra value out of the site, for those users so motivated.

> I don't know how you measured that "users appreciated gaining a sense
> of the scope from the global navigation"

Users viewed various home-page design styles, one of which provided a structured overview of the web site 3 levels deep. Users consistently chose this home-page design style over traditional styles (e.g., big hero image, a few key links, main nav). Sure, there's the local-nav argument: they could drive right where they needed. But their comments were consistent and revealing. They pointed to the fact that seeing the full breadth of the scope, structured in a way that made sense to them, gave them confidence that the site had what they needed, and was comprehensive. Subjective ratings of "trust" were highest for this design style, as were reports of the probability that they would return.

Paul Eisen
Principal User Experience Architect
tandemseven

2 Oct 2008 - 8:08am
Jared M. Spool
2003

On Oct 2, 2008, at 1:31 AM, Kontra wrote:

> All this depends, unfortunately, on the definition of what a "site
> map" is.

No, not really, since the user doesn't have a definition to work from.
They only have an expectation based on what they think they'll get
when they click on the link.

Either they click or they don't. If they click, then it's the
expectation, not the definition that matters. If they don't, none of
it does.

And thus is the nature of rickrolling.

Jared

2 Oct 2008 - 8:13am
Jared M. Spool
2003

On Oct 2, 2008, at 2:18 AM, John Gibbard wrote:

> Hmm, my only further addition to this would be to say what *harm* does
> it do to have both a well-thought out primary nav and a strong global
> footer? It's a safety net after all and if it adds any sense of
> 'completeness' what's a few pixels at the bottom of the page?

Good question.

My take:

A) it eats up team resources. None of these things are free to
conceive, design, develop, and maintain. If they aren't adding value,
why make the investment?

B) It eats up real estate. Every pixel needs to serve the design. If
these pixels aren't adding value, why make the investment?

C) It possibly adds confusion. Barry Schwartz has showed us that the
more choice we give people, the harder it is to choose, and the less
likely they'll be satisfied with their choices. If it's making the
experience more complex and less satisfactory, why make the investment?

These elements should have to fight for their right to be on the page,
not get privilege by default.

Jared

2 Oct 2008 - 8:17am
Jared M. Spool
2003

On Oct 2, 2008, at 1:05 AM, Andrei Herasimchuk wrote:

> Another example? Hop on an airplane and go to some random airport
> you've never been to, then get yourself to the baggage claim. If
> you're being honest while you observe yourself doing this little
> exercise, you'll notice that all you really care about are the signs
> that point you to the baggage claim. Everything else is may be
> moderately interesting, including the airport maps that give you a
> large lay of the land... but mostly, it's all noise, especially if
> you're trying to make international connecting flights and are
> pressed for time.

This is brilliant. I'm *so* stealing this (with attribution, when I
remember :) ).

> Further, understanding this is how many who trained in web site
> design can the make the leaps needed to do interface design for more
> traditional desktop or RIA type of applications. I need to rewrite
> it one of these days, but I had written about the Myth of Navigation
> a few years back that tries to explain this concept, albeit poorly.
>
> There's no such thing as "navigation" in software or on the web. It
> was originally a metaphor, and has long outlived its usefulness. As
> a metaphor, it was created in an attempt to communicate loading
> different pages from one or more servers. But don't confuse the
> original metaphor as being some inherent truth about what is
> happening at the software level. All there is are things you click
> on that do things you need, which may include changing the screen
> context to show a new set of items to browse or choosing a pencil
> tool to draw a line.

Yes, which is where the notion of scent was born. The user isn't
navigating. They are choosing the most likely clue to get them to
their destination. They don't feel they are on a journey. They always
believe the next click will be the target. They are following a scent.

Life is so much duller when we agree, y'know.

Jared

2 Oct 2008 - 8:27am
Jared M. Spool
2003

On Oct 2, 2008, at 7:42 AM, Paul Eisen wrote:

> Jared said,
>
>> The Big Assertion: Users are looking for something specific on the
>> site.
>
>> If the user is on the page that has their specific target, then they
>> don't need *any* navigation (either local or global).
>> If the page they're on doesn't have the target content, then they
>> need
>> to find scent (a link with good trigger words) to that content.
>> If good, clear local navigation gets them to target content, then
>> they
>> don't need any global navigation.
>
> Yes, this makes sense. And as a philosophy it provides good
> incentive to anticipate what they users could possibly be looking
> for, so the designer can provide those options locally. However,
> often there are just too many things the user might want to do, and
> in my experience it's usually not possible to anticipate them all.

Yes, but that's a problem with research. Perfect research (which, like
anything perfect, is only an ideal) would anticipate all the needs and
inform the design thusly.

> The designer could set a target of attempting to satisfy x% of the
> navigation needs with local nav (x = 90%? 95% 99%). But for those
> fringe needs, the global nav does provide the backbone to enable the
> user to explore with confidence. Exploring with confidence also
> offers the advantage of serving up options that were not originally
> considered or "needed" by the user, but may offer opportunities for
> value exchange. So the global nav may help squeeze a little extra
> value out of the site, for those users so motivated.

Which is why we say that site maps and global nav is a 'design cop-
out' -- something you do because your research and design process is
flawed. Resorting to a cop-out isn't evil, it's just a necessity of
having limited time and resources.

However, the designer should know they are copping out and walk away
feeling that, with more time and resources, they would've gone for a
better design. More importantly, subsequent designers should look at
those elements, realize their necessity and cop-out-ness and not make
stupid assertions like "the best sites have site maps so we should too."

>> I don't know how you measured that "users appreciated gaining a sense
>> of the scope from the global navigation"
>
> Users viewed various home-page design styles, one of which provided
> a structured overview of the web site 3 levels deep. Users
> consistently chose this home-page design style over traditional
> styles (e.g., big hero image, a few key links, main nav).

So, if I understand this correctly, this was based on presenting
designs and asking opinions. We know, from a ton of experience in
researching design, that this method of measuring doesn't reflect any
results from performance-based measures. What users say they like and
what they actually do with the site are two different things.

When we measure trust and satisfaction in performance-based
experiments, we find these two attributes are highly correlated to
task completion -- the more the user completes their task, the more
they say they trust the designer/design owners and the more satisfied
they are. This is different than when we do opinion-based evaluations,
where trust and satisfaction come from other attributes.

This is why MySpace and Craigslist proved so popular, despite the
design world's sense of fugliness.

> Sure, there's the local-nav argument: they could drive right where
> they needed. But their comments were consistent and revealing. They
> pointed to the fact that seeing the full breadth of the scope,
> structured in a way that made sense to them, gave them confidence
> that the site had what they needed, and was comprehensive.
> Subjective ratings of "trust" were highest for this design style, as
> were reports of the probability that they would return.

Ah, the problems with observations and inferences. I contend your
measurement instrument was highly flawed, so I wouldn't put so much
weight into your measures.

That's my story and I'm sticking with it. :)

Jared

2 Oct 2008 - 8:45am
bminihan
2007

I've gotten this one a few times in the past: "Where's our site
map? Why don't we have one?"

I tend to answer with: "Whose needs are we not serving for lack of a
site map? Let's meet those needs correctly, rather than providing an
unmanageable list of links in a format we can only guess at, for an
unknown quantity of people."

Site users who want to know the breadth and depth of a site's
services - typically can get all of that information from a
well-written, one page, bulleted summary of the site's features,
with key links into major areas of the site. If the site is
transparent and obvious enough, even that's unnecessary.

The point is, building and maintaining a site map to solve just that
problem is likely to be a bigger headache than a simpler solution.

Site maps as a design tool can be invaluable, esp as an aide to
solving info arch problems. These don't really need to exist on the
site itself.

Site maps to help search engines get to various points can be
invaluable, but there are alternatives to hosting it in your main
application.

I tend to gravitate toward the footer variety of site map, but even
then, the information I put there is for a particular kind of person:
someone looking for information about our company, services and
policies. When I stopped using images for my primary navigation, I
stopped replicating it in text form in the footer, which left more
room for company meta information, just where people have told me
they look for it.

-- Bryan

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=33722

2 Oct 2008 - 10:30am
Sachin Ghodke
2008

What I now feel, I should stick to after reading all this, I would now
use "SiteMap" only while discussing internally the
structure/skeleton of the website. This will provide my peers and
bosses the overview of the website and what shape its taking. And
also publish it to client for making them understand if I have
understood the links correctly and if we are on the same page. If we
use "sitemap" for this function I think it has more than served it
purpose of being one.

I would agree totally with Jared, I would not want pixels wasted!

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=33722

2 Oct 2008 - 10:37am
Jared M. Spool
2003

On Oct 2, 2008, at 8:30 AM, Sachin Ghodke wrote:

> What I now feel, I should stick to after reading all this, I would now
> use "SiteMap" only while discussing internally the
> structure/skeleton of the website. This will provide my peers and
> bosses the overview of the website and what shape its taking. And
> also publish it to client for making them understand if I have
> understood the links correctly and if we are on the same page. If we
> use "sitemap" for this function I think it has more than served it
> purpose of being one.

Yes, it is unfortunate that, in the world of information architecture,
we have both sitemaps and site maps. Some day we'll learn not to
overload terms.

Jared

Jared M. Spool
User Interface Engineering
510 Turnpike St., Suite 102, North Andover, MA 01845
e: jspool at uie.com p: +1 978 327 5561
http://uie.com Blog: http://uie.com/brainsparks

2 Oct 2008 - 5:05pm
Paul Eisen
2007

Jared said:
> Yes, but that's a problem with research. Perfect research (which, like
> anything perfect, is only an ideal) would anticipate all the needs and
> inform the design thusly.

Well, if we're going to get purist, then I'd contend after we've sampled the full population of users with our unlimited time and resources, our "perfect research" would reveal all of those atypical users who say something like, "I'd really love to see an overview of the major sections, so I can <insert some rationale here>." So, even in the limit, maybe there's a reason to waste those pixels on the global nav.

Paul

2 Oct 2008 - 5:56pm
Jared M. Spool
2003

On Oct 2, 2008, at 6:05 PM, Paul Eisen wrote:

> Jared said:
>> Yes, but that's a problem with research. Perfect research (which,
>> like
>> anything perfect, is only an ideal) would anticipate all the needs
>> and
>> inform the design thusly.
>
> Well, if we're going to get purist, then I'd contend after we've
> sampled the full population of users with our unlimited time and
> resources, our "perfect research" would reveal all of those atypical
> users who say something like, "I'd really love to see an overview of
> the major sections, so I can <insert some rationale here>." So, even
> in the limit, maybe there's a reason to waste those pixels on the
> global nav.

hah! Touche!

Right after the More Cowbell crowd, I guess.

Jared

2 Oct 2008 - 5:48pm
Kontra
2007

> All this depends, unfortunately, on the definition of what a "site map" is.
>>
>
> No, not really, since the user doesn't have a definition to work from.
>

Did you even read what I wrote?

The difficulty in defining what a site map is for designers, here, on this
list, not users, as my concluding sentence alludes to:

"Just because a designer can create and "see" the architectural
completeness (and complexity) of a site (at all times) doesn't mean the user
should."

--
Kontra
http://counternotions.com

2 Oct 2008 - 7:32pm
Jared M. Spool
2003

On Oct 2, 2008, at 6:48 PM, Kontra wrote:

>> All this depends, unfortunately, on the definition of what a "site
>> map" is.
>>>
>>
>> No, not really, since the user doesn't have a definition to work
>> from.
>>
>
> Did you even read what I wrote?

Yes.

2 Oct 2008 - 8:28pm
Santiago Bustelo
2010

Paul Eisen wrote:
...after we've sampled the full population of users with our
unlimited time and resources, our "perfect research" would reveal
all of those atypical users...

With unlimited resources, we can do better. Instead of sampling the
full population of users (a finite group), we can take into account
an infinite number of users with infinite different needs.

And cater them all, building an infinite website spanning the
infinite combinations of symbols of an infinite character table.

Everything will be there. Users will just need infinite bandwith,
time and patience to find it. We will be building a website for gods!

-- Santiago Bustelo

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=33722

4 Oct 2008 - 11:08am
msweeny
2006

Good Morning All,

I've trimmed a lot of this thread because it would seem like an episode of
"Lost" with all of those flashbacks but are they really or are they just a
crazy quilt of reruns made to look like flashbacks.

I love Jared's comment on trust and design as it encapsulates for me the
experience that I have with any website. Go to an ugly one and I am making
my way as if on broken glass. The fluid and beautiful ones are just that,
fluid and, even if I do not find what I want, I spend more time there trying
to do so.

Here's another utility for sitemaps and that is for the search engines. As
we move closer to the Semantic Web that we've all dreamed of and do not
recognize now that it is finally arriving, sitemaps can be a useful tool in
aggregating content by context/concept instead of location. Location-based
sitemaps are bears because they are soon out-of-date if you do not post the
new content simultaneously. I think this is why folks do not trust them.
However, a context-based sitemap is not held to that constraint. Yes, new
content should be put into its proper "category" but the immediacy is not
such a factor.

Here is one that I designed for the Windows Vista site
http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windows-vista/site-index.aspx with
contextually shared grouping to help the customers quickly (I hope) find the
area that they want and then, thanks to highly scented links (but not in
that too much cologne sense), the content that they need.

marianne
msweeny at speakeasy.net

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of Jared
Spool
Sent: Thursday, October 02, 2008 6:27 AM
To: Paul Eisen
Cc: discuss at ixda.org
Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] Site Map - How important is it as a link?

On Oct 2, 2008, at 7:42 AM, Paul Eisen wrote:

> Jared said,
> When we measure trust and satisfaction in performance-based experiments,
we find these two attributes are highly correlated to task completion -- the
more the user completes their task, the more they > > say they trust the
designer/design owners and the more satisfied they are. This is different
than when we do opinion-based evaluations, where trust and satisfaction come
from other attributes.

6 Oct 2008 - 12:35pm
Oleh Kovalchuke
2006

Site maps are close cousins of mall maps -- suitable for leisure time
killing.

"Here is one that I designed for the Windows Vista site
http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windows-vista/site-index.aspx with
contextually shared grouping to help the customers quickly (I hope) find the
area that they want and then..."

When I saw it, I have reached for the search box. Search box is an
information booth in the same mall. Except it is ubiquitous, and there are
no lines.

The search box would get me quickly in the right general location (if it
works like Google -- reasonable expectation these days), where I can refine
the results to my liking.

And this is how we, folks, behave.*

--
Oleh Kovalchuke
Interaction Design is design of time
http://www.tangospring.com/IxDtopicWhatIsInteractionDesign.htm
*According to Morville.

6 Oct 2008 - 2:05pm
Jared M. Spool
2003

On Oct 6, 2008, at 1:35 PM, Oleh Kovalchuke wrote:

> And this is how we, folks, behave.*

I don't behave nearly as politely.

:)

7 Oct 2008 - 12:05am
Sachin Ghodke
2008

When I viewed what Oleh has done for Microsoft, it gave me the
impression that I was looking at a table of contents / index of a
book (no offense meant). A not so comfortable feeling when I was
viewing it on the screen. This is my perception of the detailed
(quite detailed) site map. But to be honest I feel it boils down to
one thing - is it necessary? To my perception it is not, if the
"navigation" (this certainly has many meanings after someone above
mentioned so) is accurate. I would still say that the best use of
site maps would be pre-development phase and use it as a tool among
internal and external clients till the site goes live.

Also Search is good enough for any user to get a local website
listing to narrow further. Ah! "search" its another discussion!

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=33722

7 Oct 2008 - 8:34am
Oleh Kovalchuke
2006

On Tue, Oct 7, 2008 at 12:05 AM, Sachin Ghodke <sachyn.ghodke at gmail.com>wrote:

> When I viewed what Oleh has done for Microsoft... (etc.)

To Sachin and anyone else, who got confused by the quote attribution in my
message (and to Marianne, of course):

Marianne (msweeny at speakeasy.net) has made that site map for Microsoft. I
have only commented on it. My corrected message is below.

Thanks and appologies,
Oleh Kovalchuke
Interaction Design is design of time
http://www.tangospring.com/IxDtopicWhatIsInteractionDesign.htm

/* ************************* begin corrected
message ***************************** */

Site maps are close cousins of mall maps -- suitable for leisure time
killing.

Marianne wrote:

"Here is one that I designed for the Windows Vista site
http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windows-vista/site-index.aspx with
contextually shared grouping to help the customers quickly (I hope) find the
area that they want and then..."

When I saw it, I have reached for the search box. Search box is an
information booth in the same mall. Except it is ubiquitous, and there are
no lines.

The search box would get me quickly in the right general location (if it
works like Google -- reasonable expectation these days), where I can refine
the results to my liking.

And this is how we, folks, behave.*

--
Oleh Kovalchuke
Interaction Design is design of time
http://www.tangospring.com/IxDtopicWhatIsInteractionDesign.htm
*According to Morville.

/* ************************* end corrected
message ***************************** */

11 Oct 2008 - 10:16am
msweeny
2006

Good Morning All

And with excellent and valid feedback. The purpose of the Index on the
Windows site is two fold and you hit the first one, to give the customer the
opportunity to find content in generalized contextual categories. The second
is to provide the search engines with context groupings to (hopefully)
enhance the contextual relationship between the content items in these
groupings. And, absolutely, a table of contents (TOC) was the foundation.
However, unlike the static arrangement in a TOC (based on chapters in a book
or content structure for a website), this index is based on content
relationships.

I claim full responsibility for the experiment and will report back with
usage statistics as soon as I can get them.

marianne
msweeny at speakeasy.net

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of Sachin
Ghodke
Sent: Monday, October 06, 2008 10:05 PM
To: discuss at ixda.org
Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] Site Map - How important is it as a link?

When I viewed what Oleh has done for Microsoft, it gave me the impression
that I was looking at a table of contents / index of a book (no offense
meant). A not so comfortable feeling when I was viewing it on the screen.
This is my perception of the detailed (quite detailed) site map. But to be
honest I feel it boils down to one thing - is it necessary? To my perception
it is not, if the "navigation" (this certainly has many meanings after
someone above mentioned so) is accurate. I would still say that the best use
of site maps would be pre-development phase and use it as a tool among
internal and external clients till the site goes live.

Also Search is good enough for any user to get a local website listing to
narrow further. Ah! "search" its another discussion!

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=33722

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11 Oct 2008 - 11:23am
DampeS8N
2008

I'm going to have to put my foot down on the no-site-map side of the
fence. A site-map is a fallback tool for programmers and designers,
not for users. It is a sign of lazy design and there are a million
better options. A good search tool will beat the snot out of a
site-map.

Additionally, site maps reinforce the internal architecture of a
site, which is useful for only experts and can be obtained within the
location bar anyway. They are a way for the implementation model to
creep into the user's way and make them stumble.

Too many sites on the web force users to remember where things are
like they are a hard-drive. This is the reason search appeared in the
first place, and the reason in-site search is becoming more and more
popular.

Lets take really the only two ways to do a site map:

A) A giant list of all your pages - If your site is small enough for
this to not be pages and pages, you likely didn't need a site map in
the first place because your regular navigation shouldn't have failed
the user.

B) A /- collapsible file-tree style list of all your pages - This
option, even when only one layer deep, hides content and makes the
user hand-search through the options, opening and closing nodes just
to find a page.

The best option is a search. If the user is lost, which is the only
logical reason to have a site-map, they know what they want to find,
and a proper search will find them that. They won't user your
site-map to find random stuff, cause your site should have
facilitated that on it's own. Either through contextual links in its
content or a robust navigation system.

In general, I'd like to see more sites move away from hierarchical
menus and lists entirely. Or at least provide much better options.
Like www.apple.com 's search tool, which I hate if you hit enter,
but love if you just type. That beats the pants off a site-map.

Will

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=33722

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