One of the advantages of the prevailing model of faceted filtering on the web is the display of magnitude, or the size of the resulting set of items after selecting a filter value. You’ve seen this already: I’m talking about the numbers next to filter labels. This let’s you know how many things you’re going to get if you select that option.

While these calculations may be performance intensive, indication of magnitude provides valuable navigational cues to users. Seemingly trivial, this tiny bit of information can affect a user’s decision to select a filter or not. This post reviews approaches to showing magnitude in faceted navigation.

Read the rest of this entry »

I’m happy to announce I’ll be giving a one-day workshop on some my favorite topics in New York City:

  • What: “Web Navigation and Faceted Search Design”
  • When: Saturday October 22, 9:00-5:00
  • Where: General Assembly, 902 Broadway, NY, NY, 10010

General Assembly is hosting the event. You can register online at their website.

The first half of the day will cover various aspects of web navigation design. The second half will focus specifically on faceted search. Here’s a list of the topics covered:

  • Principles of navigation – We’ll look at principles such as transitional volatility, banner blindness, and the scent of information.
  • Mechanisms and types of navigation – Mechanisms are the basic building blocks of navigation systems. We’ll review and analyze a wealth of examples.
  • Cores and Paths – You’ll apply many of the principles from throughout the day with a modern technique called Cores and Paths. This turns the normal approach to navigation design on its head—from the inside out.
  • Analysis and implementation of facets – You’ll learn how to identify, document and implement facets with a clear framework.
  • Interface design using facets – You’ll learn about the layout, display, and interaction with facets in detail. Together, we’ll examine numerous real-world examples.
  • Advanced topics – You will also be exposed to special topics in faceted search design, including SEO, selecting multiple values, grouping, and more.

See the full workshop description for more details.

This is some of my best material, and I’m looking forward to the event.


I’m honored to be on the organizing team for the first European workshop on HCIR at the HCI 2011 conference in Newcastle on July 4. See the workshop website for more details.

We are looking for submissions from industry professionals, as well as from academics. If you work in related areas–such as IA, UX, search systems design, etc.–we’d love to hear about your practical experience in the form of a short position paper. The call for papers is now open.

What is HCIR, you ask? Human computer Information Retrieval (HCIR) is a relatively new area of investigation that brings together concerns of human-computer interaction (HCI) and information retrieval (IR). The term was coined by Professor Gary Marchionini around 2005. Wikipedia defines HCIR as:

…the study of information retrieval techniques that bring human intelligence into the search process. The fields of human–computer interaction (HCI) and information retrieval (IR) have both developed innovative techniques to address the challenge of navigating complex information spaces, but their insights have often failed to cross disciplinary borders. Human–computer information retrieval has emerged in academic research and industry practice to bring together research in the fields of IR and HCI, in order to create new kinds of search systems that depend on continuous human control of the search process.

HCIR includes a ranges of techniques and approaches that allow people to better interact with information and find what they are looking for, such as auto-complete, spell correction, and relevance feedback. A significant amount of attention is given to faceted navigation.

If you will be in Hamburg or Sydney in April, consider attending one of my workshops. I’ll be focusing on some of these aspects of HCIR around IA, web navigation, and faceted navigation:

1. In GERMAN: UX Workshops in Hamburg by NetFlow, 11-12 April

2. in ENGLISH: ANZ UX Workshops in Sydney, 28-29 April
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“Also known as fly-out menus, pull-down menus, or pop-up menus, dynamic menus provide quick access to navigation options. They are considered “dynamic” because visitors must interact with them before they display. After the visitor selects a navigation option with a mouse rollover or click, the site presents a menu window similar to choosing a menu in a software application.”

That’s how I define dynamic menus in Designing Web Navigation. They’re pretty much mainstream these days, and we’ve seen lots of variations, including mega-menus and more.

Recently, I’ve noticed another type of dynamic menu that’s scroll activated. By that I mean that the menus–sometimes just an option or two–appear when the user scrolls to a certain point on page. This is usually at the end of a text towards the bottom of the page.

Below is an example from Harvard Business Review Blogs (Figure 1). See the small box in the lower right corner with the header “More from Scott Anthony.” The menu is animated and slides in from the right side gently.

Figure 1: Scoll-activated menu on Harvard Business Review Blog

This menu option is a related content link to other stories. For news sites, it seems like a good way to lead users to other content. The animation is quite eye catching, but not intrusive or disturbing if done tactfully.

The site uses two scroll activated menus (Figure 2). First, there is one at the top that appears fairly quickly as you scroll down–see the red bar across the page. This has some social media options and a helpful search feature.

Unfortunately, when you continue scrolling to the bottom of the page, a large advertisement slides into view from the bottom of the screen. This is intrusive, and it doesn’t bring the user any direct value and tries to steer them towards a subscription.

Figure 2: Scoll-activated menus on

I suspect we’ll start seeing more and more of this. Hopefully it won’t get out of control and abused. When done subtly, it can be useful.

Learn about these and other trends, as well as principles of IA and web navigation design, in my upcoming workshops this year:

1. In GERMAN: UX Workshops in Hamburg by NetFlow, 11-12 April
a. Prinzipien der Informationsarchitektur
b. Elemente des Navigationsdesigns

Die online Anmeldung ist offen.
2. in ENGLISH: ANZ UX Workshops in Sydney, 28-29 April
a. IA for Strategic Web Design
b. Web Navigation Design
See our website for more information and to register.
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Are you in OZ and want to learn about faceted search, strategic alignment diagrams, IA, navigation and more this April? I’m  delighted to announce that I’ll be giving 2 workshops in Sydney on April 28-29, 2011!

See the workshop website for more information.

Here are some highlights:

WORKSHOP 1: Information Architecture for Strategic Web Design

Thursday 28 April 2011, 9:30-17:00 – This workshop focuses on the conceptual and strategic side of information architecture (IA). Topics include: alignment diagrams, mental models, concept maps, Cores and Paths, information structures and facets.

WORKSHOP 2: Web Navigation Design

Friday 29 April 2011, 9:30-17:00 – This workshop focuses on the nuts and bolts of good navigation design. Topics include principles of web navigation, navigation mechanisms, types of navigation, the scent of information, and faceted navigation.


  • Earlybird (to April 2): AUD 660
  • Regular Price: AUD 759


Beginner to intermediate web designers, interaction designers and IAs; usability experts looking to improve web design skills; and project managers, product mangers, and others seeking to better understand web navigation design.

See the registration details page for more information and to sign up.

I’m proud to be part of William Hudson’s UX Fest in London in February 2011. We’re planning 4 workshops in all:

There are several ways to get a discount:

  • Early bird price
  • 3-for-2 special
  • Or book all 4 workshops for a single price.

I’ll be giving two day-long workshops:

Workshop 1 – Designing Web Navigation

Wednesday February 9, 2011, Central London (James Kalbach)

This full-day workshop covers principles of web navigation and methods of navigation design with practical examples and exercises. Participants should have some experience creating or maintaining websites but are looking to deepen their design skills.

Topics include:

  • Principles of navigation
  • Scent of information
  • Elements of navigation: mechanisms, types and pages
  • Cores and Paths

Workshop 2 – Faceted Search & Beyond

Thursday February 10, 2011, Central London (James Kalbach)

Faceted navigation has become very popular in the last decade. It’s seen as way to improve the findability of information on many sites, particularly those with large collections of products or documents. The design of real-world faceted navigation systems, however, proves to be more intricate than people first assume, and designers must be aware of many details.

This workshop covers principles of faceted classification and shows you how to use facets in web design. Many examples of faceted navigation will be presented and discussed. A clear, structured framework for understanding the individual components is presented to help you understand all the decisions involved. The topics are brought to life through several hands-on exercises.

Topics include:

  • Facet analysis
  • Implementing facets
  • Interface design using facets
  • Advanced topics  including SEO, selecting multiple values, grouping, and more

Audience for both workshops:

  • Beginner to intermediate web designers, including interaction designers, graphic designers, and information architects
  • Usability experts looking to improve web design skills
  • Project managers, product mangers, and others working in related roles seeking to better understand web navigation design, who also have some experience creating websites.

Workshops In German

In April 2011, I’ll also be giving workshops on similar topics in German in Hamburg. See the “Workshops” link on my blog (to the right) for more details.

If you haven’t registered for Lou Rosenfeld’s or my workshops in Hamburg in May, you can still do it at the early bird price, which has been extended to April 30, 2009.

See more details and register at

Or see a previous blog post summarizing the event on this blog.


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