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6:5 Establish Level of Importance

Relative Importance:

Relative Importance rating of 4 out of 5

Strength of Evidence:

Strength of Evidence rating of 3 out of 5

Document Type: Guideline


Topic:

Page Structure - General


Guideline:

Establish a high-to-low level of importance for information and infuse this approach throughout each page on the Web site.


Comments:

The page layout should help users find and use the most important information. Important information should appear higher on the page so users can locate it quickly. The least used information should appear toward the bottom of the page. Information should be presented in the order that is most useful to users.

People prefer hierarchies, and tend to focus their attention on one level of the hierarchy at a time. This enables them to adopt a more systematic strategy when scanning a page, which results in fewer revisits.


Sources:

  • Detweiler, M.C. & Omanson, R.C. (1996). Ameritech Web Page User Interface Standards and Design Guidelines. Ameritech (now SBC).
  • Evans, M. (1998). Web Design: An Empiricist’s Guide. Unpublished master’s thesis. Seattle: University of Washington. Retrieved May 2003, from http://response.restoration.noaa.gov/webmastr/webdesgn.pdf.
  • Hornof, A.J. & Halverson, T. (2003). Cognitive strategies and eye movements for searching hierarchical computer displays. CHI 2003 Conference Proceedings, 249-256.
  • Kim, J. & Yoo, B. (2000). Toward optimal link structure of the cyber shopping mall, International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, 52, 531-551.
  • Marshall, S., Drapeau, T., & DiSciullo, M. (2001, June). Case study: Eye tracking the AT&T customer service site. Proceedings of the IBM Make it Easy Conference.
  • Nall, J., Koyani, S.J., & Lafond, C. (2001, January). Lessons learned while usability testing the CancerNet Web site. National Cancer Institute, Communication Technologies Branch Technical Report.
  • Nielsen, J. & Tahir, M. (2002). Homepage Usability: 50 Sites Deconstructed. Indianapolis, IN: New Riders Publishing.
  • Nygren, E. & Allard, A. (1996). Between the clicks: Skilled users scanning of pages. Proceedings of the 2nd Conference on Human Factors and the Web. Retrieved November 2005, from http://www.microsoft.com/usability/webconf/nygren.rtf.
  • Spyridakis, J.H. (2000). Guidelines for authoring comprehensible web pages and evaluating their success. Technical Communication, 47(3), 359-382.

Good Example:

Priority information and links appear in order based on users’ needs. The order was determined by surveys, log analyses, and interviews.

Frequently accessed information is at the top. Information that is used less often is at the bottom.

06_05_good_example

Related Resources:

  • Title: Prioritize: Good Content Bubbles to the Top
    Description: If everything is equally prominent, then nothing is prominent. It is the job of the designer to advise the user and guide them to the most important or most promising choices (while ensuring their freedom to go anywhere they please).
    URL: http://www.useit.com/alertbox/991017.html
  • Title: Web Style Guide: Document Design
    Description: This style guide recommends putting the most important information at the beginning of the page.
    URL: http://webstyleguide.com/wsg3/7-page-design/2-document-design.html