Pogosticking
April 04, 2002

Eaves-dropping in on some of the threads on SIGIA-L list, I came across a very interesting term that Jared Spool brought up while discussing zoom-in zoom-out behavior:

Pogosticking.

Here's what he has to say about it:

Pogosticking is an affect of the Scent of Information. When users get to a point in a content space (such as a web site) where the scent isn't clear, a common behavior is to click on the most likely candidate, inspect that candidate, then hit the back button when it isn't the right thing. Users then repeat the process with the second likely candidate. The up-and-down motion through the content space is reminiscent of a pogo stick, thus the name.

We've documented and studied pogosticking in our research. The research tells us several things:

1) Pogosticking is a primary indicator of lost scent.

2) Users pogostick when there isn't the "right" information at the upper level to properly discriminate through the candidates.

3) The more users pogostick, the less likely they will find their content.

4) When you study information systems that produce lists, most users (usually about 66%) who find their target content do it without any pogosticking.

5) Pogosticking can be dramatically eliminated through proper design.



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