While hunting (foraging) for information, people aren't interested in reading. They are too busy trying to find their "food." They are focused on the hunt. It's only when they get to the right place - when the page says "here's the information you came looking for" - that they switch modes from hunting to gathering and are ready to read, to take in the information.
Case Study 4-1 shows that most people want to read very little on pathway pages.
This chapter is mostly about structuring pathway pages. I touch on how to write links here, but you'll find more about writing links in Chapter 12.
An information page can also be a pathway to related information or more details. We'll consider those pages in the section on layering in Chapter 6.
The concept of "scent of information" comes from the work of Pirolli, Card, and their colleagues at Xerox's Palo Alto Research Center (PARC).
The Xerox PARC researchers also talk about people as information foragers - sniffing our way through web sites, hunting for what we need. It's an excellent metaphor for the behavior that we commonly see in usability testing.
Case Study 4-1
The United States has no national registry for vital records such as birth certificates. To get a copy of your birth certificate, you must find the right office in the state where you were born - although many people do not realize that.
The U. S. government has a portal site that promises to link people to the right place for many needs. In a usability test of that site, we gave people the scenario: "You need a copy of your birth certificate, and a friend said you could get to the right place from this site."
At the time of the test, the portal site was called Firstgov.gov. In 2006, the name changed to USA.gov.
Every one of the 16 people in our usability test found the link they needed easily on the home page. They looked under Online Services for Citizens and clicked on Birth and Marriage Certificates.
That brought up this web page:
COC Home Search Health Topics A-Z
Users did not read this part.
They clicked on rgj B - over and over.
They did not read rgj the paragraph.
Coming Events ■
MHANE5 a NHCS ? NHIS ■ MS ■ NSFG -SLAITS ■ Vital Statistics a
Aging ■ Classification ■ of Diseases Healthy Peopre ■ SETS m
Research ara ■ Development
ata Warehouse ■
News Releases ■
Rational Center for * Health Statistics
Publications and Information Products
KLM NOP RS
xAr> alphabetical directory is provided for those users who want direct access to individual State and territory information. To use this valuable tool, you must first determine the State or area where the event occurred and then select the first letter in the State name from the alphabet. Please follow the provided guidelines to ensure an accurate response to your request, The Federal Government does not distribute certificates, files, or indexes with identifying information for vital records. Also, applications for passports can be obtained through the U.S. State Department,
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