First time users, who might arrive through a search engine, have very little introductory text with which to ‘ground’ themselves. What explanation there is tells users where to find things, not what those things are. Returning users know what they are looking for and rarely use any descriptive signpost material. Screen real estate can be repurposed safely for first time users.

Impact severity



Descriptive material suited to first time users to be created. Potential for a new verb-less strap line to go beneath the header.


The description for Primary sources confirms where you are, but doesn’t explain what they are.

An issue of signposting


Quantitative measure

Click on the category where you would expect to find the Journal of the House of Commons

Actual question

Please click on where you’d expect to find the letters and papers of HENRY VIII

Initial click test result (‘before’)

July 2011, 200 responses.



Development change

Descriptions of the five major source types were amended (Sources on British History Online).


Descriptions modified

Follow-up click test result (‘after’)

September 2011, 154 responses.



Unfortunately, the third row contains the correct link and there’s been a move away from it. In principle, this has been unsuccessful; however, the heterogeneity of sources on BHO defies generalisation. This list could easily be expanded to show the top 5 sources from each type to give a clearer idea of content without overwhelming the user.

It looks like we were too conservative on this issue – the follow-up click test has made that clear.