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Alastair Campbell <[log in to unmask]>
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Alastair Campbell <[log in to unmask]>
Fri, 4 Nov 2005 09:48:49 -0000
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Scott Berkun wrote:
> Sorry - but I'm pretty sure you won't find data on this 
> issue.

Very true (as I've now found). SURL occasionally scratches that kind of
itch (, but not in this case. 

> we made the same decision Peter suggests: it's not worth 
> the trouble: 
> even with costs aside, many of the solutions to this problem 
> are worse than the problem itself.

I can appreciate that from a browser point of view, but it isn't that
hard from a web site point of view. Main navigation is usually quite
easy to code so that it doesn't link to the current page, assuming it's
dynamically generated. If it isn't dynamically generated, it isn't too
hard either!

> Disabling the link didn't solve this: it sometimes 
> made things worse. If Bob is certain that the "fooby dooby" 
> link is where he wants to go, seeing it greyed out or disabled is just
> frustrating as  clicking on a link that goes nowhere

That's very interesting, we've tested the style of main navigation we
use on our site (and quite a few client sites), which opens secondary
navigation in a hierarchical style and disables the current page's link.
It also highlights the current page, which although most people wouldn't
notice, seems to help in the situation where they do become confused.

I won't take credit for this style of navigation, IBM's ease of use dept
were the first people I spotted doing this:

(or )

> I'm not saying this means it's ok to have 
> bogus links everywhere: but I am saying there are lots of 
> things in the world that have this problem and the sun still rises.

Agreed, there's lot of other stuff to get on with :-)

The reason I'm sticking to this is partly for accessibility reasons and
how I've seen it affect people using screen magnifiers or with Dyslexia
(or similar issues).

It can affect people using access technologies more severely as it takes
longer to orient yourself. I've seen people using screen-magnifiers
click on the current page's link up to 3 times. The part of the screen
they were viewing jumped because of the page refresh, and they couldn't
tell the page had not changed. 

When the current link is disabled and highlighted, people tend to either
explore the page more fully (often finding what they were looking for)
or picking another link. Either of those options *usually* helps,
depending on whether they were on the right page to start with.

Kind regards,



Alastair Campbell   |   Director of Research & Development

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