Use illustrations to support not hide content

People like pictures, but they also want to find what they need quickly. If all people see on a site is illustrations and they have to wonder where the information is, you may lose them before they get to the information. Don't play games with people who come to your site for information.

Vincent Flanders calls hiding navigation under pictures "mystery meat navigation." www.webpagesthatsuck.com.

3. Use illustrations to support, not hide, content 293

The pictures on the home page of the University of New Mexico's Biology Department in Figure 11-21 are very nice, but where are the links to the site's information? Indeed, what information does the site have? You can't tell by glancing at the pictures - which is all the content the site gives you in its main content area.

This design just does not work; it makes people work too hard for what they need. In fact, it must not have worked for the Biology Department's site visitors because the site has changed since I captured the web page in Figure 11-21. The page is now a static set of pictures that don't change and are not clickable. But the page uses a subset of the pictures from the old page, so I wonder if people who had used the old site are even more confused now because what was clickable no longer is. In this case, a much greater change in design might have been more effective. And a page that brought the main content - the actual navigation -into the center of the home page might work best.

As you move the mouse, tool tips appear on the pictures, telling you to "click here" for a specific menu.

The pictures also change J rapidly as you move your cursor around the screen.

You have to realize that r Ji J clicking on the picture opened one of the links in the left column to reveal a second level of links.

Figure 11-21 Don't hide navigation under pictures. Don't tease people by making them think clicking on a picture will replace the picture and then not do it. Don't expect people to realize you've changed the left column when they are focused on the picture.

The pictures also change J rapidly as you move your cursor around the screen.

As you move the mouse, tool tips appear on the pictures, telling you to "click here" for a specific menu.

But if you click on a picture, ^ j the picture stays - no menu replaces the picture.

You have to realize that r Ji J clicking on the picture opened one of the links in the left column to reveal a second level of links.

Figure 11-21 Don't hide navigation under pictures. Don't tease people by making them think clicking on a picture will replace the picture and then not do it. Don't expect people to realize you've changed the left column when they are focused on the picture.

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