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HOT Evaluation: Menus (HTML)

Hot Evaluation: Menus (Word)

Hot Evaluation: Menus (PDF)

6. Menus

Q: What's a Heuristic Online Text Evaluation?

A. An evaluation measures how well your text online meets the guidelines, or heuristics, we have compiled from research in usability, readability, attention, and design, and from experienced professionals in the field.

Q: What's the point of using an evaluation instrument?

A: You can determine the extent to which the text of your text makes sense to your visitors.

Q: Why evaluate the menus?

A: If people can succeed in using your menus, they will go to relevant content, and, who knows? They may buy your stuff, or vote for you.  When your menu text is tangled, you may make them think you have nothing to offer, or you may send them to the wrong pages.

Q: How do we achieve meaningful menus?

A: We have many ways to test the text of menus.  In general, though, we know that your menu will be easy to follow if:

  • A title or a heading is an object that you reuse in many menus, search results, bookmark lists, and See Also lists.

  • Each menu offers a meaningful structure.

  • The site offers multiple routes to the same information.

  • The site displays several menu levels at once.

  • The target page echoes the menu item I clicked to get there.

  • The target page shows me where I am within the site hierarchy.

Q: Why do you call these checklists a heuristic?

A: Each guideline provides a method for a writer to follow, or a heuristic. If the writer has followed the guidelines well, the text scores high.

Q: How do we perform the evaluation?

A: Here’s how to perform a Heuristic Online Text (HOT) evaluation.

1. Download and save the file with a name that includes

  • The site you are analyzing

  • The aspect you are evaluating (brevity, in this case)

  • Initials

  • A period

  • A suffix indicating the file type (doc for Word files, htm for HTML files)

Examples: ibmmenusjp.doc, yahoomenusds.htm

2. Go to the site, and locate a fairly typical page that has a menu.

A menu is not running text, or links embedded in a sentence.

3. In the file, type the subject of the page, under Sample #1, below.

The subject appears in the title bar of the window (not including ads for your browser) or in the major heading at the top of the page. Use whichever best articulates what the page is about.

4. Copy the menu and paste it into this file after the subject.

5. Return to the page and copy the URL for that page, then paste that into this file, in the line right after the paragraph.

The URL is the address of the page.

6. Type today’s date on the next line, to show when you collected the sample.

7. Repeat this process, collecting menus from at least 5 pages.

If possible, find pages with different kinds of menus.

Tip: You may want to print out your samples, so you can look at their text on paper as you work onscreen.

8. Apply the HOT Evaluation to the text samples you have collected, filling out the evaluation form.

If a strategy or tactic seems irrelevant, omit it from your evaluation.  Note that this will change the total possible points.


How to make your menus meaningful:

6a. Think of a heading as an object you reuse many times.

6b. Write each menu so it offers a meaningful structure.

6c. Offer multiple routes to the same information.

6d. Write and display several levels at once.

6e. When users arrive at the target, make it obvious.

6f. Confirm the location by showing its position in the hierarchy.

Resources on menus

Taking a Position on Menus

Heuristic Online Text (H. O. T.) Evaluation of Menus




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