Here’s a fascinating conference proceeding paper, titled Discovery of Individual User Navigation Styles and written by Eelco Herder and Ion Juvina, which discusses how a user’s unique characteristics can affect how he or she navigates websites. Conducting this type of user research is imperative to user experience designers, as it can assist UXers with determining how to structure a particular site’s navigation.
During their study, Herder and Juvina identified two primary navigation styles: flimsy navigation and laborious navigation. Users who engage in flimsy navigation tend to hang around the site’s homepage for too long, and they “regularly return to their starting points. Time is mostly spent on processing content instead of actively locating information.” Meanwhile, laborious navigation is more sporadic and involves an “intensive exploration of navigational infrastructure provided by the site. Users seem to employ a trial and error strategy; they follow links merely to see if they are useful or not. They figure out quite fast when paths are not leading towards their goal and return. Revisits are numerous but not redundant: once a page is revisited a different link is followed than before, which constitutes another trial.”
The authors conclude that adaptive navigation support is the best solution to accommodating these different navigation styles, and, consequently, to providing the best website navigation experience for users. Adaptive navigation support is described as a dynamic user navigation model.
I’m very interested in learning more about adaptive navigation support. I will research this topic further and discuss it in a future blog post.