The goal of this feature is to strike a balance between depth and breadth, by breaking menus up into pieces that are an acceptable depth and breadth for all users. Or, the depth and breadth may be customizable based on user needs, and options can be grouped or separated according to the user’s preferences.
There is a lot of debate about whether we should minimize the breadth (the number of options on each page) or the depth (the number of pages, each with fewer options) of a menu. A large depth and small breadth makes the page more efficient for blind users with screen readers, since they can eliminate many options on each page without listening to them all. Yet, if the menus are not clear, the user may get lost and frustrated in the depths of the site. On the other hand, a large breadth and small depth makes it easy to see all of the options at once and choose the best one, but may be overwhelming for some users, especially those with screen readers who must then listen to all of the options in search of the best one.
Discussion by Disabilities
Blind & Low Vision
- People who use screenreaders or high-powered magnifiers can only read very limited amounts of content at any given time, and must work through pages hierarchically. These users benefit from a limited number (breadth) of options per page, even if it causes an increased number of pages to sort through (depth) to get to the desired information.
- People who have cognitive disabilities or memory problems may have difficulty with large depths of menus, because they may forget the path they took to get there or the information that they need. However, displaying too many menu items on a single page may also be confusing. Clearly defined items and a balance of breadth and depth are needed.
Related Research and Papers
- Age Differences and the Depth – Breadth Tradeoff in Hierarchical Online Information Systems – Panayiotis Zaphiris (2002)
Contributions & Discussion
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