DonnaM » Blog Archive » The missing page paradigm

The missing page paradigm

More than anyone else (even the unnamed one that some of you know about), Mark Hurst consistently makes my blood boil. In his latest, he states a basic page paradigm as:

“On any given Web page, users will either…

  • click something that appears to take them closer to the fulfillment of their goal
  • or click the Back button on their Web browser”

I think that there is a big action missing. Here’s how it goes:

  • notice something else on the page that is interesting and click it

Now I know that I’m not the only one who does this – I have seen a lot of people do it. Of course, I don’t see it in a usability test or contextual enquiry, because when I’m there people are following my ‘instructions’ and ignoring their natural tendency to distraction (but even in a usability test they may say ‘that’s interesting, I’ll come back to it later’). I see it when hanging around with people in front of computers.

In reality, this is a big deal, both in the sense of persuasive marketing and increasing knowledge. I have deliberately designed information systems so they include the information that people know that they will need (the user’s goal) right next to the information that someone else wants them to know. In Mark’s world, people would never click the latter link. In my world, I have seen it happen – people see the additional information and learn that there is something else that they should know about, or something else that they might like to buy.

This is one of the big challenges of information architecture – not to just group information, but to understand how to identify the information that people don’t know that they want and get them to it.

I also share Peter’s concerns, so didn’t repeat them here…

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