Mark Hurst’s has repeated (republished) in his newsletter his “Page Paradigm” to describe the near-constant pattern in the way that users navigate web sites. It’s amazing how despite constant growth and change has occurred simple truism such as these hold true. Of course it’s easy to take these slogans too literally. There is nothing wrong (and its been proven effective) of course with putting a large amount of effort into creating “beautiful” web sites but it’s no substitute for focusing on exactly on what people are trying to do there.
On any given Web page, users will either…
- click something that appears to take them closer to the fulfillment of their goal,
- or click the Back button on their Web browser.
A few of his notes:
“Users don’t much care “where they are” in the website. So-called “breadcrumb links,” which show the user the exact hierarchy of the website as they click further down, are a nice but mostly irrelevant technology. It’s not that users don’t understand the links; it’s that they don’t care. … Users don’t care where they are in a web site.”
“NOTE 4. … Users only come to the website when they have a goal – usually finding a specific piece of information, or conducting a specific transaction. The Goal is very specific, and it’s the defining motivator of that user’s experience on the website. Fulfill the Goal quickly and easily, and it’s a good experience; otherwise, users will try to avoid the site in the future.”
“… partner promos, silly “branding”, overdesigned navigation, graphic advertising, and the rest – that have nothing to do with the Goal? From the user’s perspective, they are pointless at *best* – at worst, an active motivator to tell their friends not to go to your website.”
“NOTE 5. Consistency is NOT necessary. What matters on the Web is whether, on each individual page, the user can quickly and easily advance the next step in the process.”