Cards Experiment

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To test grouping of the links on the Detailed/Highlighted Home Pages, we devised an exercise based on Jacob Nielsen’s experience when revising the Sun Intranet web site. In his experiment, he asked different users of his site to group the links on the main page and to name the group of links with an appropriate title. He used a very limited number of users (four, as I recall from the WWW6 conference). He referred to this as the 80/20 rule – you get 80 percent of the information in small sample. To obtain the remaining 20 percent of the information takes a very large sample. If you have time, a large sample is great. But in the world of the web, which changes daily, pursuing a large sample for the remaining 20 percent is probably not very valuable.

In our exercise we listed all links currently found on the detailed home page and then reduced the number of items to be sorted by eliminating:

This brought the number of links to sort down to 106 – still a large number but more manageable than the original 204.

Sets of index cards were generated, each card with one link. Web users, representing various divisions and groups, were given a list of all the links and the index cards with the following instructions:

  1. Please read though the list of link descriptions as they could appear on the "Detailed SLAC Home Page". Please rank each link in terms of how important the link is to your job function. The rankings range from Vital (5), Useful (3), Do not Need (1), or Don't Know what it is (0).
  2. After ranking each item, use the index cards to group all links scoring 3 or greater. You can sort the links into as many groups you feel is best for the "Detailed Home Page".
  3. After sorting the cards, create a title for each of your groups. Record the title next to the codes on page 3. If you need more code, use the backside of the paper.
  4. Record your name, group, division, and "sort code" next to the link.

The following results were obtained.

Summary by: mcdunn
September 9, 1997