Navigating Online Menus: A Quantitative Experiment

Karen Eliasen, Jill McKinstry, Beth Mabel Fraser, Elizabeth P. Babbitt

Abstract

A uniform interface to multiple, varied databases enhances searching and reduces the need for end-user training. The uniformity, however, can make it more difficult to select appropriate resources. This article describes a quantitative study at the University of Washington Libraries that examined the effect of terminology and screen layout on students’ ability to correctly select databases from an introductory screen, the Session Manager. Results indicate a significant improvement in students’ ability to navigate menu screens where terminology is expanded and selections are grouped by type. Implications for other projects, including Web design decisions, are suggested.

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