To click or not to click – a usability dilemma
Let me briefly set the scene.
There is a price comparison site. The site holds tens of thousands of products, organised into categories each with individual attributes by which they can be sorted.
Customer A wants to buy some wet dog food. They arrive at the homepage of the site and click on the “Pet supplies” link, taking them to the pet supplies page. There is a list of results displayed on the page immediately, but customer A needs to be more specific to find what they need. Customer A is presented with a screen that looks like this:
The links in the red box represent the sub categories under ‘pet supplies’. In the green boxes, there are links allowing customer A to search for attributes within these sub-categories, without the user needing to navigate through the sub-categories themselves. Customer A can click on the ‘wet dog food’ link from the first green box from this page and is presented with relevant results. After 2 clicks, the user goes ahead and transacts with the site.
Customer A notes that despite having clicked onto the ‘wet dog food’ link, all the links in the red box and all the green boxes stay on the page and do not change. This happens no matter which category or product the user navigates to under the ‘pet supplies’ section of the site.
Customer B also wants some wet dog food. When customer B lands on the home page, they also click on the ‘Pet supplies’ link. However, customer B is presented with this screen:
Customer B is also presented with a list of results, but they too need to drill down further to find what they need. Customer B therefore clicks on the ‘dog food and treats’ link in the red box, which takes them another level deeper to this screen:
After drilling down into the ‘dog food and treats’ category, the user is given the option to further filter their reults with the links in the green box. Customer B then finds what they need and completes the transaction after 3 clicks.
- The customer found what they wanted after just 2 clicks
- After the first click, customer A is presented with a screen with up to 10 boxes of attributes (tens of links) down the left hand side of the screen. Difficult to scan and makes the page look cluttered.
- Customer B is presented with a neater, cleaner screen that allows them to drill down into sub-categories and attributes in a logical order
- Customer B has to click 3 times to get their results.
So, what I’m asking you as users, usability experts, designers, content writers etc., which of these options do you think is best? Would you be happier with customer A or customer B’s experience? I’d be even more interested to know if you think there is a better all-round solution.
I realise that a site search function largely reduces the need for this kind of system, but I’d still be very interested to know what the general consensus is on this. Personally, I prefer user B’s experience. The links change depending on how far you’ve drilled into the site, in a logical way that isn’t confusing. It takes an extra click but declutters the page, while breadcrumbs allow the customer to navigate backwards if necessary.
Filed under: Content & usability | 4 Comments
Tags: categories, menus, usability
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