• Text Resize A A A
  • Print Print
  • Share Share Share Share

View all available chapters

7:10 Use Site Maps

Relative Importance:

Relative Importance rating of 2 out of 5

Strength of Evidence:

Strength of Evidence rating of 4 out of 5

Document Type: Guideline


Topic:

Navigation


Guideline:

Use site maps for Web sites that have many pages.


Comments:

Site maps provide an overview of the Web site. They may display the hierarchy of the Web site, may be designed to resemble a traditional table of contents, or may be a simple index.

Some studies suggest that site maps do not necessarily improve user's mental representations of a Web site. Also, one study reported that if a site map does not reflect user's (or the domains) conceptual structure, then the utility of the map is lessened. One study showed that only 7% of users turned to the sitemap when asked to learn about the site's structure.


Sources:

  • Ashworth, C.A. & Hamilton, D.B. (1997, June). A case for frames. Proceedings of the 3rd Conference on Human Factors and the Web.
  • Billingsley, P.A. (1982). Navigation through hierarchical menu structures: Does it help to have a map? Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Annual Meeting Proceedings, 103-107.
  • Detweiler, M.C. & Omanson, R.C. (1996). Ameritech Web Page User Interface Standards and Design Guidelines. Ameritech (now SBC).
  • Dias, P. & Sousa, A.P. (1997). Understanding navigation and disorientation in hypermedia learning environments. Journal of Educational Multimedia and Hypermedia, 6, 173-185.
  • Farkas, D.K. & Farkas, J.B. (2000). Guidelines for designing web navigation. Technical Communication, 47(3), 341-358.
  • Farris, J.S., Jones, K.S., & Elgin, P.D. (2001). Mental representations of hypermedia: An evaluation of the spatial assumption. Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Annual Meeting Proceedings, 1156-1160.
  • Kandogan, E. & Shneiderman, B. (1997). Elastic windows: A hierarchical multi-window World-Wide Web browser. Proceedings of the 10th Annual ACM Symposium on User Interface Software and Technology, 169-177.
  • Kim, H. & Hirtle, S.C. (1995). Spatial metaphors and orientation in hypertext browsing. Behaviour and Information Technology, 14, 239-250.
  • McDonald, S. & Stevenson, R.J. (1998). Navigation in hyperspace: An evaluation of the effects of navigational tools and subject matter expertise on browsing and information retrieval in hypertext. Interacting with Computers, 10, 129-142.
  • McEneaney, J.E. (2001). Graphic and numerical methods to assess navigation in hypertext. International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, 55, 761-766.
  • Nielsen, J. (1996a, May). Top ten mistakes in Web design. Retrieved November 2005, from http://www.useit.com/alertbox/9605.html.
  • Nielsen, J. (1997a, March). The need for speed. Retrieved November 2005, from http://www.useit.com/alertbox/9703a.html.
  • Nielsen, J. (1999b, May). ‘Top ten mistakes’ revisited three years later. Retrieved November 2005, from http://www.useit.com/alertbox/990502.html.
  • Nielsen, J. (1999c, May). The top ten new mistakes of Web design. Retrieved November 2005, from http://www.useit.com/alertbox/990530.html.
  • Nielsen, J. (1999d, October). Ten good deeds in Web design. Retrieved November 2005, from http://www.useit.com/alertbox/991003.html.
  • Stanton, N.A., Taylor, R.G., & Tweedie, L.A. (1992). Maps as navigational aids in hypertext environments: An empirical evaluation. Journal of Educational Multimedia and Hypermedia, 1, 431-444.
  • Tullis, T.S. (2001). Web usability lessons learned. Fidelity Center for Applied Technology Technical Report. Fidelity Investments.
  • Utting, K. & Yankelovich, N. (1989). Context and orientation hypermedia networks. ACM Transactions on Office Information Systems, 7, 57-84.

Good Example:

The use of headers and, subcategories, and alphabetization makes this site map easy to scan.

07_10_good_example1

This site map effectively presents the sites information hierarchy. The expand/collapse controls (plus/minus signs) allow visitors to check sub-sections without leaving the site map.

07_10_good_example2

This site map provides an A Z index of the web sites content.

07_10_good_example3

Related Resources: