The Effects of Menu Graphic Design on Navigation Research
I was psyched to find The effects of menu design on information-seeking performance and user's attitude on the World Wide Web by Byeong-Min Yu and Seak-Zoon Roh (JASIST, Volume 53, Issue 11, Pages 923-933). It's only a couple years old and fairly rigorous, but I can't recommend it. It looks as if in the process of trying to control for the graphic design, they ended up simply creating bad graphic design. Below is a shot of a cascading menu from the study, which is so unusual looking I can't respect the study's findings. Granted we're looking at this out of context, but something as familiar as a cascading menu - especially when used for a navigation - should look rather familiar. I would think when controlling for this, it would make more sense to use the very familiar, such as menus that resembled Windows menus. Oh well.