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I remember reading recently some studies (lot of them pretty old) that claimed that in general it is better to go with wide and shallow information architecture rather than narrow and deep. However now I can't find, can anyone point them to me? I even remember reading chapter in some book about this, which referenced several of the studies.

Edit: Thanks for the tips. I misremembered, it wasn't a book and it was more about menu structures. The article I was searching for is http://www.humanfactors.com/downloads/apr032.htm

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2 Answers 2

The book you’re referring to is ”Information Architecture for the World Wide Web: Designing Large-Scale Web Sites” written by Peter Morville and Louis Rosenfeld. But your memory fools you since they say that you should avoid overloading users with too many options, meaning a too wide navigation is kind of dangerous. Instead you should group and structure information at the page level and enforce rigorous user testing.

That’s almost the opposite of wide and shallow navigation, in my ears.

Screenshot of the book mentioned above

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My experience is that there isn't a 'right' answer to this question. What you should aim for is having the users always be in the position of knowing where they are now, and knowing how to get to where they want - as quickly and easily as possible.

Sometimes this will lead to narrow and deep structures. Sometimes this will lead to shallow and wide structures. Sometimes this will lead to structures that will be narrow in some places and broad in others. Depends on the domain.

One thing the "don't go narrow/deep" advice might have been railing against is the way some people seem to think that presenting many choices is always bad (e.g. it's one of the ways that Miller's 7+-2 research gets incorrectly applied).

There's also the problem of people thinking that the IA structure only refers to separate pages. There are other ways of getting hierarchy across - visual grouping of links on a page can do a lot too.

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