Readers use Communications' contentboth print and digitalin different ways. Some take their time and leisurely read through articles from top to bottom, while others take a hurried approach, often in search of their personal buzzwords. Studies show that 79% of Web site users skip past carefully constructed prose to scan pages for a specific word, phrase, or image (Jakob Nielsen, Alertbox, Oct. 1, 1997). If they don't quickly find what they are looking for, they will do a formal search. These habits have significantly impacted the design of the soon-to-be-launched Communications Web site, where we plan to facilitate both types of usage patterns. For those interested primarily in browsing the site for content relevant to their specific technical interests, we are building a robust "Browse by Subject" capability that will enable the site to serve up content on specific topics in computing. For those interested in quickly identifying specific objects, both regular and advanced search options will be available utilizing the Endeca and Google search engines.
"Browse by Subject" navigation was refined by early usability tests of Communications' site. The tests showed some purposeful readers jumping past headlines to find specific articles. "Browse by Subject" topics do the jumping for them. They give readers a way to figuratively bypass rows of bookshelves to land squarely in front of titles devoted to software, or education, and so forth. (The placeholder topics shown on this screenshot will give way to topics defined through the collaborative effort of IT practitioners, academics, CACM staff, and volunteers.) They provide a way to locate articles before turning to traditional search.
The topics will also help scan recent ACM Digital Library articles, as shown in the purple-bannered Portal widget shown here. "Browse by Subject" navigation will be so simple in practice as to require little or no explanation.
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