Below is my take on a case study comparing 6 common navigational methods by the Usability Professionals Association including among them Rollover, Flash, and Flyout menus I often see â€˜crufting-upâ€™ various church and/or charity websites. The results, while not surprising to me, may sober-up others drunk with GUI gadgetry:
While overhauling their internal website, the designers for one of Fidelity Financial ran into some tough questions regarding which navigational approach best suited their site. As a result, they fielded six different version of their website, and gave about 120 some-odd people about 4 common tasks each.
The results – at least to me – are not surprising:
You can read the article to see how each menu style is defined, sufficed to say that the simplest – and least glamorous – method yielded the best usability results:
- Yahoo-style menu: 15%
- Rollover menu: 23%
- Flash menu: 23%
- Expand/Contract menu: 22%
- Drop-down menu: 15%
- Fly-out menu: 26%
But here’s the real kicker the study results renderd:
- There was no time savings in using ‘geekier‘ menu methods over simpler; and
- Users reported, subjectively, no preference of ‘flashier‘ menu methods over simpler.
So does this mean you need to rip out your existing navigation on your church website? Perhaps … but that’s not my point today.
Instead, if you walk away with anything regarding this study, Iâ€™d like it to be these two things:
- Design user interface based upon common user workflow/tasks; and not whatâ€™s nifty; and
- dare to take time to test these tasks against different types of user interface methods across at least 5 different users.
Of course this implies the following:
- that you understand your users – and understand you are not one of them
- that youâ€™ve enumerated the common user tasks and/or workflow
- that you use a test site to test development before going live
So why not read the case study â€¦ and even better, the associated PDF: â€œExtreme Makeover: UI Editionâ€ … as examples of how to go about making user interface decisions for your next church and/or charity website do-over.
Who knows? You might actually wind-up with website navigation as relevant to your userâ€™s context as last Sundayâ€™s sermon!