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Shortcuts are good for users

December 18, 2011 - 1 Comment

Have you ever taken the scenic route when using a website? If you have, it probably wasn’t on purpose.

The concept doesn’t really apply to the web. Every click is expected to take you closer to your the goal. Getting to the destination is the only objective when traversing a web site.

Wouldn’t it be great if the paths that we take most often were a little bit shorter, a bit better marked, and a bit more direct?

On a website, that’s entirely possible.

With this in mind, we’ve started adding some mechanisms that provide shortcuts, such as popular downloads and the downloads search tool on the Support Home Page and Support Mega Menu.

Since we made some changes in March, we’ve seen some fantastic evidence about how users navigate to downloads. Before, 77% of users went through the top page of the Software Downloads Product Navigator to drill down and find the model, release and ultimately download. Now, 49% are starting on the top page, which means 51% are starting deeper in the Product Navigator structure.

In short, more people are starting closer to their destination– it takes less time and fewer clicks to get there. As a result, the average time to select and start to download software was nearly cut in half from a year ago.

Shorter trips means the opportunity for errors is reduced. And the metrics indicate that 5-9% more users are successfully completing downloads compared to last year.

This is all due to shortcuts. The enhancements to the site allow users to either go directly to the destination, or send the user deep in the product navigator, by-passing layers of product categories and sub-categories.

There are three things that contribute to deeper entry into the product navigator: 1) the download search, 2) popular downloads links and 3) the download link on each product support page (series pages).

Download search was available before we started making changes, as was the download link on Series pages, however, both were somewhat challenging to find. The design changes elevated the search to the Support Mega Menu and the Support Home Page.

Popular downloads links on the Support Mega Menu and the Support Home Page are likely helping. But a big contributor has been the Downloads Search on the mega menu and the tab on the support home page.

Another big contributor is the advent of overlays for the product categories on the Support Home Page, which are driving more people to the Series pages.

From the Series pages, users can click the download link and land deep in the product navigator. This avoids drilling down through the product navigation. Based on our metrics, it looks like quite a few users have already found this shortcut.

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  1. Great overview on current shortcuts. Can’t wait to see what user-centered improvements are next!