Tuesday, July 6, 2010

What works best for navigation? Icon links or text links? - WEBSITE STRATEGY

That's one of the core design choices you can make.

I am not talking about the top navigation bar or side menus.

I am talking about the topics you can list in the content.

I tested both - here is what I did:

  • TEST 1 - around 50 program icons listed on the home page
  • TEST 2 - the totality of the topics ordered and listed on the home page as links
  • TEST 3 - only a fraction of topics are listed - icons to product types like ebooks, videos, etc
With TEST 2, which is the text links, traffic increased by roughly  5-10%

With TEST 3, traffic decreased by 30%

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So, here is the conclusion:

Even though, listing ALL topics on the home page does not make sense from a design perspective (it doesn't look as pretty as icons, videos, etc) that's what makes visitor's life the easiest.

It is way more challenging to navigate a see of icons than a see of text links where ONLY the info needed is there.

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Actually quite a few big sites use this full set of text links in their home page.

Craigslist, and many other sites.

I am sure that designers don't like it at all because it gives them nor room for creativity.

However, I am sure that users love it because they can find exactly what they look for straight away!

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