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About the navigation stress test

About the Navigation Stress Test.


  • The idea of a navigation stress test was introduced in my September 12, 1997 Web Review article that evaluated (Internet Archive copy)
  • First public presentation was at the "User-Centered Design" panel at Seybold Seminars, New York, 1998. Jeffrey Veen described that panel as "common sense".
  • The test was incorporated into various Argus Associates reports and presentations from 1999-2001.
  • The Art & Science of Web Design uses the stress test 3 basic questions to describe "The Three-Panel Layout" (starting on page 47).
  • I further refined the test for various "Web Navigation Discussion" presentations in 2001/2002. The largest crowd was at a Puget Sound SIGCHI meeting.
  • Mentioned in Chapter 7/Navigation, pages 111-112, of the 2nd edition of Information Architecture for the World Wide Web. And on pages 48 and 120 in the 3rd edition of IAWWW.
  • Worksheet translated into Spanish by Christian F. Leal Reyes, December 2004 (but I cannot find a working copy any more).

Similar Work

These are similar navigation reviews that were developed separately (as far as I can tell).

  • Don't Make Me Think includes a "trunk test" (starting on page 87 of the first edition).
  • James Lewin's Rapid Web Development in IBM developerWorks, September, 2001, has a section on printing out pages and reviewing them for common interface problems.

Related Research

Michael L. Bernard, Software Usability Research Laboratory, Wichita State University, has done research on where users expect to see certain elements of the page (like home, internal and external links).



why does your "navigation stress test" page fail the navigation stress test?

Thanks for this very valuable tool. Several of us used it in our Intro to Usability and Information Architecture classes this semester at the University of Texas iSchool.