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Answers to Select Questions on User-Centered Design

April 23, 2012 – submitted by Hardik Khanna

Question: I am an Internet evangelist. I came across your website through a friend's recommendation and really like it. I have a query regarding web designing, which goes like this: on websites, why are filters provided on the right-hand side of the page? From my personal observation/usage I have seen that generally the cursor is always on the right side of the screen, which is probably because I am a right-handed person. Whenever I try to change filters, I have to again rub my finger against the mouse pad, which is not a very good experience. This becomes even more annoying on an e-commerce website. Can you please provide some insights on this?

Eric's response: Well, you can find pretty much any design online somewhere. But, in general, filters belong either on the top or the left side. In that way, logical structure is maintained (for cultures reading left to right and down). You first enter the filter and then you see the results.


April 20, 2012 – submitted by Diane Evans of Savannah, GA

Question: Do you think decision trees, nav maps, and storyboards are enough to represent the hierarchy of information to your design, or do you require an additional tool for the same? Give reasons in support your answer.

Eric's response: Hmmm. Am I answering your test question?

Well in any case, you do not need multiple methods to define an information architecture. A simple tree view will pretty much always be enough. Navigation maps do not show an information architecture purely. They are used to show navigational solutions, which have implicit in them an information architecture. But, you also deal with other issues, like the selection of modes of navigation. For example, your information architecture could be managed with a combination of a left navigation and a modal menu.

Storyboards are not a method for describing an information architecture. Rather, they are methods which provide a part of the context necessary to determine an optimal information architecture. However, in addition to the taskflow data in a storyboard, you would also need to look at the mental model of the users (as in the HFI ‘Primary Noun Analysis’ methodology presented in our User Centered Analysis and Conceptual Design course).

Did we pass? :)

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