Brainstorms and Raves

Notes on Web Design, Development, Standards, Typography, Music, and More





Site Maps: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Jakob Nielsen’s latest Alertbox article is Site Map Usability. His summary:

"Most site maps fail to convey multiple levels of the site’s information architecture. In usability tests, users often overlook site maps or can’t find them. Complexity is also a problem: a map should be a map, not a navigational challenge of its own."

He cites some interesting examples and makes good points about usability and keeping them simple. Some I’ve seen have truly been a maze, while others that are simple don’t begin to tell me anything helpful. Finding a good balance is key. Nielsen suggests them being no more than 2-1/2 times the window size.

Some people say that if a site has good information architecture that a site map isn’t needed. While I understand that, I also find well done sitemaps are a user-friendly addition to sites. Another good reason to have sitemaps is for search engines, in which case a text sitemap is first choice.

06:02 pm, pst 8 January, 2002 Comments, Trackbacks ·

Categories: Usability


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Recommended Books

Cover - Defensive Design for the Web: How to improve error messages, help, forms, and other crisis points, by 37Signals. New Riders Press (March 2, 2004). 

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