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New services added to a drop down menu are labeled "New!" with a colorful ribbon label on the corner of that new service's button. But how long should that "New!" label stay there? Is there any guideline for this?

In the case of the system I'm working on, I'm not able to access the exact number of times the user logs in and out or whether or not they click this button. I do know roughly how much time has passed (e.g. a month). I also know if it's their first time logging in since the "New!" was added, but there are many services in the menu (a list of ~30) and I don't think seeing the "New!" label once is enough.

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You need to set the new items in relation to other items, and how often you expect to get new items in the list. If you get a hundred new items every day, it would be bad to have the new flag for 72 hours, since you would then get roughly 300 items displayed as new. On the other hand if you have a list where you only get one new item a month, and as a cause of that users not visiting quite as often, 72 hours would be too low.

Instead of setting fixed times for new items, you could also use a per user new items since last visit. It would definitely take longer time to implement, but the User Experience would greatly improve. Users who visit often, would probably only get a few (if any) new items upon every new visit, but seldom visitors would get a greater list of new items. This technique could also learn those seldom users to come in an visit more frequent as they see that they are missing a lot of information since there are a lot of new items which in fact could already be outdated. Kind of like the way a Facebook notification works (but without the red item counter).

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More or less what Benny said, with a couple additions: since you're working with content, remember that blocks of content are affected by actions and may be affected by other content, so in your case, new is relative to other content.

With that in mind you must consider these variables that affect your content (in your specific case, there might be a lot more in other cases):

  • amount of items

an obvious one, since it will dictate the items per page and subsequent navigation

  • availability

This is important and sometimes overseen: what's the point of adding selling techniques to something that doesn't exist? Yet I see it every day. If you don't have it, don't worry about new or affirmative selling techniques. Instead, you can inform the user when the item will be available again.

  • frequency of updating and number of updates

Like Benny said, this makes a huge difference. If you update every day is one thing, if you update once a month, is another. But also keep in mind you could be adding 1 item a day or 300 items once a month. The difference is obvious.

  • average days between visits per user

This is something easy and a metric you should be using anyways. For example, let's say your average user visits your site once a week. Then 7 to 10 days (assuming you don't update a lot) should be enough. If you update a lot, you could use progresive messages like "new", "added 3 days ago", "last week" and so on (you'll get the idea, copy is on you)

  • items per page

This is something you should research and track. Personally, when I do ecommerce sites or catalogs, I like to leave AT LEAST one row with no added value tags to reinforce the other items. So, once I consider the points above, I try to make room for at least 1 row. For example, let's say I get an optimum result of 16 items with "new" message. Then, if I use a 3 columns grid, I make the page to be 7 rows (since last "new" item will be in row 6). If I use 4 columns, then 5 rows. This is important for me, because I'd rather restrict "new" (or whatever) tags if the page becomes too long. I never have a "new" item in a second page, but again, this is what I DO


Finally, one point I consider and has nothing to do with UX, but since I come from marketing areas, I consider useful: do you REALLY need the new tag? Keep in mind this is a reinforcement on the sale funnel, so you might be prioritizing selling 1 candy just because it's new instead of selling a car. Rather than "new" I'd use "featured" items. but again, this is my personal view.

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