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Recommended Usage of Top of Page link?

I've been contemplating what the recommended usage of a "top of page" link
should be?

Should there only ever be one at the bottom of the page?
Should they be sprinkled at various points on the page?
Or should they be used at all?

Lately, I've been leaning towards the last option because my thought is that
most browsers have a method to make it back to the top of the page (home
button, scroll bar, whatever). It seems I never use the top of page link on
a page. Do people have links to usability studies demonstrating it's
usefullness?

Jonathan

Jul 20 '05 #1
22 5135
In article <yl************ *******@news04. bloor.is.net.ca ble.rogers.com> ,
Jonathan Snook wrote:
I've been contemplating what the recommended usage of a "top of page" link
should be?

Should there only ever be one at the bottom of the page?
What good would it do there?
Should they be sprinkled at various points on the page?
Not really, see below
Or should they be used at all?
No.
It seems I never use the top of page link on a page.


I do, once in six months or so. Usually when I want to be able to use
back button to go back to the point of "top of page" link. For example
when on the top of page is definitions of terms used in text.

But, much, much better than top of page links would be link to terms
definition from each term used.
--
Lauri Raittila <http://www.iki.fi/lr> <http://www.iki.fi/zwak/fonts>
Saapi lähettää meiliä, jos aihe ei liity ryhmään, tai on yksityinen
tjsp., mutta älä lähetä samaa viestiä meilitse ja ryhmään.

Jul 20 '05 #2
"Lauri Raittila" <la***@raittila .cjb.net> wrote in message
news:MP******** *************** *@news.cis.dfn. de...
In article <yl************ *******@news04. bloor.is.net.ca ble.rogers.com> ,
Jonathan Snook wrote:
I've been contemplating what the recommended usage of a "top of page" link should be?

Should there only ever be one at the bottom of the page?


What good would it do there?


It would get you back to the top of the page where the navigation usually
resides. Or maybe there's a FAQ and after every answer there's a link back
to the top of the page where the index of questions are. Kinda like your
example of terms and definitions.
Should they be sprinkled at various points on the page?


Not really, see below
Or should they be used at all?


No.


No, they shouldn't be used at all? or no, as in disregard that even being an
option and always have a top of page? (I'm guessing the former based on how
you've answered everything else.)
It seems I never use the top of page link on a page.


I do, once in six months or so. Usually when I want to be able to use
back button to go back to the point of "top of page" link. For example
when on the top of page is definitions of terms used in text.

But, much, much better than top of page links would be link to terms
definition from each term used.

Jul 20 '05 #3
In article
<yl************ *******@news04. bloor.is.net.ca ble.rogers.com> in
comp.infosystem s.www.authoring.html, Jonathan Snook
<go************ ***@snook.ca> wrote:
I've been contemplating what the recommended usage of a "top of page" link
should be?

Should there only ever be one at the bottom of the page?
Should they be sprinkled at various points on the page?
Or should they be used at all?


I think they should not be. I personally find them irritating. If I
want to go back to the top of the page, I can use the scroll bar of
hit Ctrl+Home, thank you very much. :-)

This is to some extent a personal thing, but to me they look almost
as amateurish as "click here".

I had peppered my Web site with them in the early days, without
really thinking about why I was following this custom. Gradually
I've been weeding them out.

--
Stan Brown, Oak Road Systems, Cortland County, New York, USA
http://OakRoadSystems.com/
HTML 4.01 spec: http://www.w3.org/TR/html401/
validator: http://validator.w3.org/
CSS 2 spec: http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-CSS2/
validator: http://jigsaw.w3.org/css-validator/
Jul 20 '05 #4
P
> I've been contemplating what the recommended usage of a "top of page" link
should be?
Good question, without any quick, easy answers. I think you're right to look for usability studies, and I'd be interested to see those too.

I think we have to be careful not to assume that the average user is similar to people such as ourselves who spend a lot of time on the web. For instance, I (like most heavy-web-users, I figure) am pretty good with a scrollbar - I can grab that sucker and zip up to the top of the page in an instant, and probably would usually do that before it ever registered in my consciousness that there was a "Top of Page" link.

But less-constant web users may well use Top-of-Page links a lot. When I watch "more normal" folks use the web, my impression is that they find "getting around" in general much more laborious. So anything that might provide some help - if indeed these links do - might be worth providing.
Should there only ever be one at the bottom of the page?
I think this is a very logical place for them. As you said, navigation is usually at the top of the page, and it provides a quick jump back.
Should they be sprinkled at various points on the page?


If we conclude that typical site visitors make use of them regularly, then I think it's fair to say that, on long pages, they are useful for the same reasons that they're useful at the bottom.

Good question, and I'm interested to see other thoughtful answers.

--
P@tty Ayers
http://www.WebDevBiz.com
Web Design Contract, Estimate Worksheet
--


Jul 20 '05 #5

On Sun, Jul 6, P@tty Ayers inscribed lines that stretched out
the office door and halfway down the corridor (now reflowed to
usenet conventions):
I think we have to be careful not to assume that the average user is
similar to people such as ourselves who spend a lot of time on the
web.
Indeed. So if you're going to offer them anything, *make it count*:
don't just teach them some dead-end stunt that only works on your own
pages and maybe a few others. They spend most of their time on
_other_ web sites, so give them something that you can be confident
will work there also.

I.e if you are going to do anything, then help them to find the tools
that are already there on their own browser.
For instance, I (like most heavy-web-users, I figure) am pretty
good with a scrollbar
I find page up/down/home/end keys to be considerably less effort, and
cause less wrist strain. Especially on the thinkpad where I've
usually forgotten to bring the mouse and have to use that awkward
nipple thing in the keyboard. However, that wasn't your point, so
let's move on...
But less-constant web users may well use Top-of-Page links a lot.
Maybe they do, at the beginning; I really don't know. Do you want
them to be stuck with training-wheels all their life?

To me they're almost as pointlessly intrusive as "click here", and
look just as stupid on the browser's "summary of links on this page"
menu.
When I watch "more normal" folks use the web, my impression is that
they find "getting around" in general much more laborious.


Which is why it's so important to help them find the tools that they
already have on their browser, that will work reliably on every page
they view[1] - not confuse them with endless variations on different
ersatz solutions on every site that they visit.

[1] excluding hostile javascripting by some deezyner, admittedly.
(but I have an answer to that kind of problem, of course...)

Just imagine if the TV didn't have its own volume control, and you had
to learn a different procedure for adjusting the volume on every
different channel you viewed. As a very rough analogy.
Jul 20 '05 #6
"Jonathan Snook" <go************ ***@snook.ca> wrote in
news:yl******** ***********@new s04.bloor.is.ne t.cable.rogers. com:
I've been contemplating what the recommended usage of a "top of page"
link should be?


I had thought that they were something useful, but given some
of the responses to your posting, now I'm not sure.

Anyone want to comment on this example:
http://members.shaw.ca/davepatton/mapcompare.html

I don't disagree with the comments about using the
browser's Back button, keyboard keys, or the scrollbar,
but does it really detract from the page to have the
"Top" links? I concede the point about having "Top"
showing up multiple times in the 'list of links' for
this page, but the page, by the nature of its content,
is of limited use unless it is being viewed in a
graphics-capable browser with images enabled.

--
Dave Patton
Canadian Coordinator, the Degree Confluence Project
http://www.confluence.org dpatton at confluence dot org
My website: http://members.shaw.ca/davepatton/
Vancouver/Whistler - host of the 2010 Winter Olympics
Jul 20 '05 #7
On Sun, Jul 6, Dave Patton inscribed on the eternal scroll:
Anyone want to comment on this example:
http://members.shaw.ca/davepatton/mapcompare.html
I'll comment, if you wish...
but does it really detract from the page to have the "Top" links?
What's the purpose, actually? The "top" link simply goes back to the
Overview. I would have thought that the point of having an Overview
was to confirm that the page is really what they were looking for.
Once they've read that, they aren't normally wanting to go back and
read it again - if the page really _is_ what they want then they'll be
browsing around the rest of it, whereas if it isn't, they'll simply
leave, I would have thought.

On the other hand, a user of a browser which _doesn't_ offer a list of
links *might* just find it convenient to have a quick link to the
page's menu.

Could I also recommend making use of link rel/rev for some key
navigation features? It does no harm for those benighted browsers
that have no support for it, but it rates to be a useability
enhancement for those which have (which doesn't mean only Mozilla and
Lynx...)
I concede the point about having "Top"
showing up multiple times in the 'list of links' for
this page, but the page, by the nature of its content,
is of limited use unless it is being viewed in a
graphics-capable browser with images enabled.


I'm not sure that's really true, and on two counts:

1. You seem to have a hidden agenda about 'list of links' menus.
Maybe you think they exist only on Lynx? But even IE5/5.5 had the
"IE5 web accessories" add-on from MS. Mozilla is offering me a whole
list of your links, and their (in some cases derived from
unfortunately-chosen alt attributes[1]) link texts. Take a look (e.g
view->page info->links) and see what I mean. Opera also offers a
view->links popup menu. In Opera's case at least you can have the
links sorted, such that the Top links all come together.

2. someone who's got limited bandwidth[2] might still decide to have
image loading switched off, and only load the images that they then
decide are of relevance to them.

But here's my summing-up: I think you've made a good choice with your
navigation menu, but if there was one place I'd want a link to from
various parts of the document it would _not_ be the Overview at the
top - it would be the navigation menu, which is at the bottom (on
non-CSS browsers) or right-hand column (on CSS-enabled browsers).

(Your page is a disaster unfortunately on NN4: couldn't you be
persuaded to use one of the recommended styelsheet-hiding
techniques?).

best regards

[1] The alt attribute is supposed to be a textual _alternative_ to the
image, i.e to replace whatever function the image was serving. These
thumbnail images are serving as links to larger images of the maps, so
in my view the alternative texts should name the target of the link,
e.g "Etopo 1:50,000 092G06 topographic map": it's misleading to have
an alt text on the thumbnail link saying "... thumbnail", giving the
false impression that the link leads to a thumbnail when it in fact
leads to a large image.

[2] and there are plenty of such folks on the WWW still - they haven't
all got cable/DSL access, and things are liable to get worse
(increasing use of wireless and portable appliances) before they get
better (deployment of 3G technology in rural areas?) as far as I can
see.

Jul 20 '05 #8
>>>>> "Jim" == Jim Ley <ji*@jibbering. com> writes:

Jim> "awkward nipple thing" ??? I guess that's another way I'm weird then
Jim> seen as the nipple is my favourite pointing device. - Especially as
Jim> the thinkpad scrolls just by moving it up and down and pressing the
Jim> middle blue button.

I suppose this is still near on-topic... :)

I find the force-sensitive stick to be hard to use as well. I'm much
better at managing a position (trackpad) than a force (trackstick).

--
Randal L. Schwartz - Stonehenge Consulting Services, Inc. - +1 503 777 0095
<me****@stonehe nge.com> <URL:http://www.stonehenge. com/merlyn/>
Perl/Unix/security consulting, Technical writing, Comedy, etc. etc.
See PerlTraining.St onehenge.com for onsite and open-enrollment Perl training!
Jul 20 '05 #9
In article <3f************ ***@news.cis.df n.de>, one of infinite monkeys
at the keyboard of ji*@jibbering.c om (Jim Ley) wrote:
usually forgotten to bring the mouse and have to use that awkward
nipple thing in the keyboard.


"awkward nipple thing" ??? I guess that's another way I'm weird then
seen as the nipple is my favourite pointing device.


Seems to depend on the quality (or lack thereof).

I *much* prefer a decent trackpad. But on my current laptop, the
trackpad is so useless as to be worse than the nipple.

YMMV.

--
Nick Kew

In urgent need of paying work - see http://www.webthing.com/~nick/cv.html
Jul 20 '05 #10

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