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Directory Users and Their Preferences

What do directory users actually do?

10:47 am on Mar 22, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Can anyone point me to studies or observations about what directory users preferences might be?

For example, do such users prefer a lot of top level categories or few?

Do they abhor -- as I do -- having to drill down far for a very categorized subcategory, or do they prefer large categories with many listings?

Do they use the middle of the alphabet -- say J, K, L -- of alphabars?

Do they mostly use the search box, or do they drill down to the category they want?

Thanks for any help in this.

10:09 pm on Mar 28, 2009 (gmt 0)

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WebmasterWorld Administrator anallawalla is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

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votes: 21

I work for an IYP and can talk generally about our experiences. At the moment 70% use the big search box on the home page. They can't miss it. 30% come via search engines. The split might be 60/40 or 50/50 since some users type "yellow pages" into Google and arrive at the home page search box. :)

We don't present a prominent Browse by Categories anymore. When we did, less than 1% used it. But this depends on how you present it. Other IYPs list some major localities and major headings on their home page. We don't.

We have a discreet Browse by State, where they can browse headings by locality, then ultimately get a list of business names which show the A page by default. However, they choose the desired locality first and often a small suburb might not have many listings for a given heading, e.g. Abattoirs.

Nonetheless, as the search box usually brings the user into range, they can further refine and sort in many ways.

2:37 am on Mar 31, 2009 (gmt 0)

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incredibill is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

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I think the situation varies if you're a big fat kitchen sink directory vs. a narrow focused niche directory.

One size doesn't fit all and the only way to determine what's right for your site is to analyze the log file and see how it's being used the most.

Additionally, consider using a visitor heatmap to see how people are using your pages because design can vastly impact usage.