Re: Scrollable list or keyword search?

Subject: Re: Scrollable list or keyword search?
From: "Nyman, Rikki" <Rikki -dot- Nyman -at- ALLIEDSIGNAL -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 12 Feb 1998 09:58:00 -0700

>>I believe that Jared Spool's report titled "Web Site Usability: A Designer's
>>Guide" showed that users tasked with locating information at certain web
>>sites fared worse when face with a keyword search mechanism than if they
>>simply browsed the site.

>>I vote for the scrollable list as long as the entries are meaningful to the

The concerns I would have about a scrollable list containing hundreds"
listings are
1. How long will the database take to populate the list?
2. Will the user be able to start typing the choice he/she wants to
quickly go
to a spot in the list. Otherwise, scrolling through hundreds of items is

The consensus from the people I've talked to here at work and from those
of you who have shared your opinion is that the majority prefers a
keyword search with access to the scrollable list if the keyword search
doesn't come up immediately with appropriate choices -- in other words,
most people want both options. One user suggested putting a hyperlink
to a "help" page that would explain how to effectively search the

I've found Jared's book to be an invaluable resource in designing
information for the web, but user's are gaining sophistication in using
the web very quickly. The most important thing I learned from reading
his report is that what we take for granted as being good print design
cannot be directly translated into good web design. It's a new medium
and we are only just beginning to see what works and what doesn't.

At Sun Microsystem's web site, an article on usability indicates that
users have been rapidly developing an understanding of evolving web
conventions so deviations from perceived web design standards may meet
with negative comments. Users are integrating their actions on the web
as a "a single interwoven user experience" .


rikki -dot- nyman -at- alliedsignal -dot- com

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