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7:4 Provide Feedback on User's Location

Relative Importance:

Relative Importance rating of 4 out of 5

Strength of Evidence:

Strength of Evidence rating of 2 out of 5

Document Type: Guideline


Topic:

Navigation


Guideline:

Provide feedback to let users know where they are in the Web site.


Comments:

Feedback provides users with the information they need to understand where they are within the Web site, and for proceeding to the next activity. Examples of feedback include providing path and hierarchy information (i.e., 'breadcrumbs'), matching link text to the destination page's heading, and creating URLs that relate to the user's location on the site. Other forms of feedback include changing the color of a link that has been clicked (suggesting that destination has been visited), and using other visual cues to indicate the active portion of the screen.


Sources:

  • 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 Unpublished master’s thesis.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.
  • Farkas, D.K. & Farkas, J.B. (2000). Guidelines for designing web navigation. Technical Communication, 47(3), 341-358.
  • IBM (1999). Web Design Guidelines Design in Action. Retrieved May 2003, from www-3.ibm.com/ibm/easy/eou_ext.nsf/Publish/572.
  • Lynch, P.J. & Horton, S. (2002). Web Style Guide (2nd Edition). New Haven, CO: Yale University Press. Retrieved November 2005, from http://www.webstyleguide.com/index.html?/contents.html.
  • Marchionini, G. (1995). Information Seeking in Electronic Environments. New York: Cambridge University Press.
  • Nielsen, J. & Tahir, M. (2002). Homepage Usability: 50 Sites Deconstructed. Indianapolis, IN: New Riders Publishing.
  • Spool, J.M., Scanlon, T., Schroeder, W., Snyder, C., & DeAngelo, T. (1997). Web Site Usability: A Designer’s Guide. North Andover, MA: User Interface Engineering.

Good Example:

Color coding the pages and navigation menus provides effective feedback to the user about their location in the Web site.

07_04_good_example1



The highlighted top tab and left navigation help users understand their current location in the Web site. 07_04_good_example2

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