People frequently use the ubiquitous Back button found in most Web
browsers to return to recently visited pages. Because all commercial browsers
implement Back as a stack, previously visited branches of the tree are pruned;
this means that people can quickly navigate back up the tree. The problem is
that previously seen pages on alternate child branches are no longer reachable
through Back. An alternate method is to implement Back on a recency model,
where all visited pages are placed on a recency-ordered list with duplicates
removed. This means that all previously seen pages are now available via Back.
Because advantages and trade-offs exist in both methods, we performed a study
that contrasted how people used stack vs recency-based Back. We found that
people have a naïve mental model of how the conventional stack-based Back
works, typically perceiving it as a recency list. People are also poor
predictors of what pages will be displayed with both types of Back buttons.
Finally, people seem evenly split over their preference of a stack vs
recency-based Back button.
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