Designing for the Scent of Information

Designing for the Scent of Information

The Essentials Every Designer Needs to Know About How Users Navigate Through Large Web Sites

By Jared M. Spool, Christine Perfetti, and David Brittan

Single Report: $30.99

Group License: $79.99 (Share with your group, including right to reproduce the report and store on your intranet)

28 pages, November 2004

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The users coming to your site all have one thing in common: their animal instinct. When a user wants to find something on your site, they are on the hunt. Just like a fox in a forest, they’ll be most successful when they pick up a strong scent.

“Thank you for your continued research and efforts on these subjects. I am surprised that even now I continue to need tools such as these to help the business understand the nuances of web design. You seem to have a knack for creating just the right tools at just the right time. And you offer this advice at such a bargain price that it’s a no-brainer to purchase.”
Bill Skeet, Sr. Mgr Web Technology and Interface, Juniper Networks

Does your site’s content have the strongest scent it can? Does your site’s design enhance your information’s scent or obscure it? If you don’t know how the scent of information affects your users, chances are your site prevents them from finding your most important content.

In Designing for the Scent of Information, you’ll learn the design secrets of successful sites, such as,,, and You’ll see how users approach a site, how they decide where to click, and how certain designs are better at getting users to the information they seek.

Not Just Another Set of Opinions

Designing for the Scent of Information isn’t just a collection of uninformed opinions about what looks cool. We’ve spent more than 8 years, conducting hundreds of usability tests and recording thousands of clickstreams—studying each site to see exactly what worked and what failed. This report describes the most detailed analysis ever conducted of how people move through web sites.

“The Scent of Information is so important that you’ll find it completely changes the way you approach designing your site and laying out your pages. You’ll never look at a site the same way again.”
Jared M. Spool, Co-Author of Designing for the Scent of Information

The Scent of Information is a proven concept that explains how people navigate large sites and how the design decisions you make can either improve the site or make it worse. In lectures delivered across the globe, Jared Spool and Christine Perfetti have taught thousands of designers, information architects, and web professionals, many of whom have told us that these presentations changed the way they think about web design. Now, with David Brittan’s help, they’ve put their knowledge into this exciting new report, jam-packed with examples and helpful hints.

If you’ve never had a chance to hear Christine’s or Jared’s excellent presentations on the scent of information, now is your chance to get their insights with this thorough report, covering all the fundamentals on this critical topic. If you were one of the lucky people to catch their presentations at a conference or during the UIE Roadshow, this report is an excellent way to share what you learned with your colleagues and management.

What You’ll Find In This Report

  • An Introduction to Scent. We start with an example of what scent looks like when it works. You’ll see how a user successfully works their way straight to their desired content, hidden deep within’s web site.
  • Things that Block Scent. We’ll then walk through some of the most common ways designers block scent on web sites: iceberg syndrome, camouflaged links, banner blindness, links that lie, missing words, and misplaced links. You’ll see examples of both good and bad trigger words from a variety of sites, such as the sites for the Boston Globe and the Discovery Channel.
  • Navigation-Panel Shell Games. You’ll see the problems we frequently find with navigation panels and global navigation. We’ll show you some classic problems from,, and other sites, as they try, unsuccessfully to help users move toward their targets.
  • Longer is Better. What is the optimal length of a link? How long should your pages be? Looking at the data we’ve collected in thousands of clickstreams, you’ll see exactly how long your links and pages should be, including insightful examples from CNN and
  • The Scent of Graphics. Our research has identified and classified the three types of graphics: navigation graphics, content graphics, and decorative graphics.

You’ll see excellent examples of each type on the sites for the Congressional House of Representatives, eBay,, and National Public Radio’s Car Talk program.

Did you know…

  • Not all links are the same? There are an optimal number of words to make links most effective. You could be obscuring your content’s scent with links that are the wrong size.
  • The most critical element of a link is the trigger word? You’ll see how these powerful words and phrases jump off the screen to attract your users’ attention.
  • The length of your site’s pages could be hurting your design? It may be that they are not long enough.
  • Users’ eyes naturally gravitate to specific parts of the screen? Your critical information could be hiding from them, just because it’s positioned poorly.
  • There are three types of graphics? Two of them, when implemented well, help your users achieve their goals quickly. The third, well, it rarely helps at all. You’ll learn about all three types and how to choose which work best.

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We guarantee you’ll be 100% satisfied. Buy your copy of Designing for the Scent of Information and you have a full 30 days to look it over. If it’s not right for you, send us a mail message for a full money-back refund.

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