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Re: CSS nested list menus, how much is too much?

From: Charles McCathieNevile <chaals@opera.com>
Date: Fri, 12 Aug 2005 15:29:24 +0200
To: foliot@wats.ca, w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
Message-ID: <op.svec3ab9wxe0ny@widsith.lan>

On Fri, 12 Aug 2005 14:18:45 +0200, John Foliot - WATS.ca <foliot@wats.ca>  
wrote:

> In a 1997 CHI (Computer Human Interface) paper [2], it was noted, "The
> basic insight is that, in order to navigate through a world with minimal
> prior knowledge of its layout, .... that they [developers - JF] shall
> not overwhelm the user with information. In particular for view
> navigation, Furnas showed that it is ideal to show only small views (a
> relatively small number of choices) that the number of navigation steps
> is not too large and that the route to any target must be discoverable."
> A Microsoft study [1.2] demonstrated that accuracy diminished as more
> "sub-levels" (hierarchy) were added (in other words one nested list
> inside the master list is preferred over a list inside of a list inside
> of a list).
> However, George A. Miller (the original author of "The Magical Number
> Seven") noted "The point seems to be that, as we add more variables...,
> we increase the total capacity [of differentiation - JF], but we
> decrease the accuracy for any particular variable.."[1.1]

There's some interesting work done by (among others) Inmaculada Fajardo  
Bravo at the Univesity of the Basque country, which suggests that there  
are different cognitive paths taken by "most people" and "most  
pre-lingually deaf signers". I don't have a reference handy, but it should  
be findable (I think I have pointed to it on this list in the past).

The general point of cognitively overloading a page is pretty sound  
though, IMHO. There is a trade-off between being able to navigate to  
anywhere, and being able to work out how to get to where you want to go...  
and too much choice isn't often helpful. Good site design instead employs  
multiple paths to the same information, as well as information about  
"_the_" path (as understood by the site designer). That's why the Web is  
designed as a web, not a directory tree, although all too often it is  
built to look like a directory tree.

cheers

Chaals

-- 
Charles McCathieNevile                              chaals@opera.com
          hablo español - je parle français - jeg lærer norsk
   Here's one we prepared earlier:   http://www.opera.com/download
Received on Friday, 12 August 2005 13:29:37 GMT

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