Enabling people to find the specific information they require amongst the hundreds and thousands of other pieces of content available on a site can be a difficult task.
Most research into the way users navigate a site reveals that people follow one path and then, when that doesnt provide the information they require, they retrace their steps using the back button, until they find another suitable path to follow.
Users can find this process frustrating and after a couple of unsuccessful attempts, give up on a site.
Information scent is a term used to describe how people evaluate the options they have when looking for information on a site. When presented with a list of options, users will choose the option that gives them the clearest indication (or strongest scent) that it will step them closer to the information they require.
Sites with strong information scents are good at guiding users to content. Conversely, sites with weak information scents cause users to spend longer evaluating the options they have and increase the chance that they will select the wrong option, forcing the user to employ the back button.