A Theory On How Users Decide Where To Go Next And How Can You Navigate Your Users On The Web?

31 Dec

The web is all about hyperlinks.

But, you may wonder if people will scroll on your webpage?

How do they decide to click on a link?

When do they leave your webpage?

When do they prefer to search and when do they browse?

How do they decide to search for information in your mobile app or on the web?

The main reason why users decide to click on a link on your website is just because of the information scent.

Now let’s see what this information scent is and how it reflects on your website.

What does information scent mean?

With the fragrance that people wear, we usually get a hint of the scent they might be wearing.

Similarly, when the users visit your website and search — they get a hint about what information the site contains, through the visual or textual cues.

This is termed as an information scent.


In the broadest sense, it is the strength and correlation of the information provided on a site in comparison to the objective of the user who is searching. Information Scent is directly correlated to great web design.

What is the importance of information scent?

A strong information scent is important to convince users they will find what they’re looking for at the end of their journey. As they follow links that bring them closer to their end goal.

There should be nothing alarming, disjointed or confusing for a user as they move throughout a conversion funnel.

There are two elements that are key to maintaining a successful scent trail for users:

1. Maintain a clear message

This allows the user to predict what the outcome will be if they take the action requested of them. It is essential that the messaging and the action will correlate.

2. Reflection

When a user looks back at their trial and considers the step they are currently on, is that step relevant to the content that brought them to their current situation.

How is information scent used?

Connective messaging is commonly used to create a relationship between marketing campaigns and on-site objectives. Consistent messaging should be found on the journey from an ad to a designated landing page, and through to the checkout page or conversion page. All the while, the user needs to be exposed to similar keywords, visuals or other clues that indicate they are heading in the right direction.

Particular information is linked to the correct page so that users can predict what they’re about to see because that’s why it is an important part of the site-wide navigation. Information architecture must be clear so that users are able to take action based on the messaging to which they’re exposed.

If navigation is unclear, users won’t know where to go and might easily become frustrated with the site. This frustration reduces the likelihood that the user will accomplish whatever goal they came to achieve, which inevitably negatively impacts a site’s conversion rates.

How does it reflect on the website?

First and foremost the role of web designers is to help lead users to their goal. They do this by increasing the strength of information scent while simultaneously decreasing the scent of unrelated or competing information.

Users rely on various cues to ensure they are not wasting their time or effort in the search for their goal. So if the scent gets stronger, the user follows the cues to the goal. If the scent gets weaker, the user abandons the cue and back tracks or abandons the site entirely.


To navigate your users on your site, you must use the concept of information foraging, which eventually helps in increasing the site’s conversion rates and benefits the users as well.

But, What is information foraging?

Information foraging is a theory that applies the ideas from optimal foraging theory to understand how human users search for information.


The theory is based on the assumption that, when searching for information, humans use "built-in" foraging mechanisms that evolved to help our animal ancestors find food. Importantly, better understanding of human search behaviour can improve the usability of websites or any other user interface.

What does information foraging theory include?

Humans are constantly seeking, sharing and consuming information from their environment in an attempt to make sense of the world and achieve their goals/objectives.


The theory stipulates that the journey of users following the scent of information to achieve an objective mimics that of an animal following the scent of their prey to satisfy their hunger. The information search process is called “foraging” or following the information scent.

Bottom line

Do you or your company need content readily available to your users? Do you want to help your users navigate to your website? Let us help you. We, here at ILLUMINZ, have experts for content strategy, design and it’s implementation. You can contact our experts for their advice or can just drop a mail at business@illuminz.com.