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Effects of scent and breadth on use of site-specific search on e-commerce Web sites

Michael A. Katz, Michael D. Byrne
2003 ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction  
Users faced with Web sites containing many possibly relevant pages often have a decision to make about navigation: use the menu of links or use the provided site search function. Two studies were conducted to examine what users do when faced with this decision on e-commerce Web sites, and how users go about deciding which method to attempt. An exploratory study revealed a wide distribution of searching and browsing behavior across sites and users. Counter to some predictions, use of the site
more » ... use of the site search functions did not yield faster or more accurate performance in locating products. Questionnaire data suggested that factors relevant to the menu structure, interface element prominence, information scent and user dispositions all influenced the decision of whether to browse or search a site for a product. A second experiment utilizing novel e-commerce sites and allowing for more control of factors found to be important in the first study found that browsing behavior was influenced by both the breadth and information scent of the menus. These results suggest that providing site search should not be used to compensate for poor menu design, and provide further evidence regarding the design of effective menu structures.
doi:10.1145/937549.937551 fatcat:uyyyadi5pfdp5hdadfrl64m4hm