Study shows that simplicity is key and that heavy use of a link in a site map indicates a navigation problem.
Businesses should not neglect to keep their sitemaps as simple and effective as possible in order to improve the user experience on their websites, according to usability guru Jakob Nielsen.
The expert’s latest Alertbox column explained the findings of a new study suggesting that sitemaps still represent an important part of web surfing – as long as they are easy to use and do not make users work too hard.
Mr Nielsen called on those in charge of website maintenance to avoid using flashy technology to create interactive sitemaps that force users to do yet more exploring when they want a simpler solution.
He also emphasised the benefits of a multi-column layout over a single-column sitemap, indicating that the former can help users to save time by scrolling less.
“Users hate non-standard user interfaces that force them to learn a special way of doing things for the sake of a single website,” Mr Nielsen commented.
“Sitemaps should be simple, compact layouts of links and they should show everything in a single view.”
However, websites experiencing a high level of click-throughs to their sitemaps on certain pages may need to investigate the overall usability of the site’s navigation and structure, as it could indicate that users are finding it hard to uncover the information they need, according to Jared Spool of User Interface Engineering.