Mike Brown wrote:       
> I think the article <http://usability.com.au/resources/source-order.cfm>
> *is* the prevailing wisdom in this matter :)

Which is to say, some testing with a very specific design was used
(with very little content or navigation), and that's all we have to go
on so far.

Steve Green wrote:
> A lot of people spout opinions on this, but it is all conjecture,
> and most of the people making assertions in favour of having
> content first have no experience of user testing

I have experience with testing, and tend to put content first.
Unfortunately it's not so simple, there are several related issues,
depending on the design, and mostly affecting those using non-visual
1. What the user is used to (learning effect).
2. What is most effective, without the learning effect.
3. How easy it is to work out what the site does.

Long term, 2 should take precedence, and 3 should help people get over
1. Otherwise we'd still be using tables for layout and asterisks for
null alts.

> People expect sites to behave the way they always have done
> Why change what is not broken? I don't hear any users saying they
> want content first.

Kind of like Neilsen's "people always use other sites more than
yours", although it's not the sort of thing that users think of or
complain about explicitly.
The problem is that things could not improve if that is *always*
followed, and for many sites, content first makes more logical sense
for linear access. (Screen reader, small screen, text browser etc.)

With the (major) caveat that good headings and skip links will make
more difference than the source order, content first makes more sense
if you assume that people go to a site for content.  It's the
equivalent to the visual aspects of good navigation - it doesn't get
in the way.

The bottom line is that in testing, people tend to learn a site and so
long as it's consistent and (concisely) sign-posted, people will get
around. Almost all of our sites & templates have content first, and
that's worked.

The ones that have navigation at the top have a horizontal navigation
that needs to push the content down when text is expanded, and I guess
we'll have to wait until the CSS3 layout module before it's worth
experimenting with source order for that type of design :-/


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