In this age of the internet, most of us are constantly turning to the internet for answers. In that search you are likely to come across multiple sites that provide access to the same type of information, and so the question becomes which one gives me the most accurate information and which are the easiest to use. The latter is a question of particular interest to me. New tools are always being developed to help the user work with the interface to find what their looking for and do so with efficiency.
This is most obvious in looking at the banners and sidebars that act like tables of contents for websites. One of the most useless tools that websites employ must be the sitemap. An example of web design navigation success are breadcrumbs that help you see where you’ve come from or the departments under which the information you are viewing fall.
Alternatively some webpages are designed specifically for getting people to the information they want when they have relatively little to go on. Our recent car search (which ended at a 2003 Jetta) had us trying out a few such web tools that allow you to customize your search by style, number of doors, power accessories, etc. All of these options are fairly familiar to all of us. Not many people have trouble telling you how many doors are on a car. However, in other situations these defining characteristics are not so clear.
We found ourselves in one such situation recently when while playing bocce ball in the back yard we saw an odd bird hopping around back there. Now, imagine going to a site like the used car site and entering wing style. That’s when we came across whatbird.com. This site had a very helpful multistage selection search feature that helped us to finally identify our newest wildlife as the American Woodcock. You can choose from a number of options including call type and there are examples and pictures to help you make your selections. When Matt and I came in from the game I could only describe the bird as a chipmunk with wings. As you could imagine my description was not too helpful in identifying the bird, but thanks to the ingenuity of the tool we succeeded. It turned what felt like ignorance into knowledge.
If you have a web tool that you love please share it.