Friday, May 25, 2001


There's a lot written about usability on the web. There are expensive consultants you can hire who will teach you about usability [1]. But is it really too hard to imagine how users will use your site?

I was visiting a site today that had one of those "top 100" lists. They started out by presenting a list of the first 25 in an area on the side of the page. Click one, and the page filled with details. (Their details weren't that great, but I'll try to stay focused!).

I was drifting through these listing, and got to #25, the last one shown in the initial list. They provided a dropdown menu right after the list, with the following choices:

  • View
  • View 1-25
  • View 26-50
  • View 51-75
  • View 76-100

and then a link for "End of list".

If I'm viewing item #25, why would I want "View 1-25" on my list of choices?

And why is "End of list" a link when the other navigational items are part of the pulldown?

It's not like these are static pages - it's easy to tell by the URL that they're using one of leading application server technologies on the market.

It's not like this is a small company - every adult in America has heard of this company.

It's not like they're a low-tech shop - they just merged with one of the biggest names on the internet.

So why can't they get it right?

Even add the following to the page:

  • Take "View" off the pulldown. It doesn't go anywhere and "View X-Y" seems pretty clear.
  • Make the selected option on the pulldown the next range of companies.
  • If I click on a company for details, make it the top (or center) of the list of companies. That way, you don't have to select a different page if you find something interesting within 25 companies.
  • Remove "End of List", which is just a cheap alias for "76-100". (If you feel compelled to leave it, then add "Beginning of List".)
  • Some would argue that the choices should be links, not part of a pulldown. With only 4 choices, they may be right.

So please, think about how your users will use the site, and then make your site useful!