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Re: Usability studies Re: Breadcrumbs

From: Phill Jenkins <pjenkins@us.ibm.com>
Date: Thu, 5 Aug 2004 12:34:02 -0500
To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
Message-ID: <OFBC8C144C.71790A8E-ON86256EE7.005DBB6A-86256EE7.006080DB@us.ibm.com>
I would also suggest a little caution in reaching the same conclusion from 
the studies because of how the study was designed. 

For example, Quoting from the second study:

Participants were asked to complete 21 search tasks (e.g., What is a 
flowering tree that tolerates wet soil?) on The Garden Company site and 
record their answers. 
Based on this description, I would not expect bread crumb trails to be 
more efficient until I was accidentally (or as a result of some search 
results)  thrown deep into a site and could get some better hint from the 
bread crumb hierarchal trail that overdid my decision to re-phrase the 
search arguments to get a better hit.  So, depending on how the 21 tasks 
were asked, and depending on my skill as a search argument generator; my 
efficiency and use of bread crumb  would vary greatly. 

The highlight of the study is that bread crumbs were in fact used by 40% 
of the people 5 or more times.  That in the end of the study the site with 
bread crumbs didn't preform much better than the site without bread crumb 
has more to do with the design of the 21 tasks and the design of the bread 
crumb themselves - but little to do with the expectations of the 40% of 
the users who used the bread crumbs.  My assertion is that they used the 
bread crumbs expecting some usefulness or they wouldn't have used them. 
That the study found bread crumbs not to be any more efficient is kind of 
looking at the glass as half empty.  Using Charles argument that people 
are different and have different abilities, preferences, and searching 
styles - then the conclusion from the study could have said that bread 
crumbs are just as efficient as other navigation search methods.  So 
without the bread crumbs, 40% of your site visitors might feel more 
dissatisfied if there were not bread crumbs link to help.

Regards,
Phill 
Received on Thursday, 5 August 2004 13:34:39 UTC

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